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Spot truckload rates surge to start New Year

Jan. 11, 2018
Amid extreme weather and tight capacity, national average spot truckload rates saw double-digit increases during the week ending Jan. 6.

Amid extreme weather and tight capacity, national average spot truckload rates saw double-digit increases during the week ending Jan. 6, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The number of available loads increased 27%, in line with expectations when a full workweek follows a holiday-shortened one. However, the number of trucks posted to DAT load boards was up just 7.4% and the imbalance pushed load-to-truck ratios up for all three equipment types:

  • Van load-to-truck ratio: 14.7, the highest van ratio ever recorded in DAT Trendlines
  • Flatbed ratio: 63.5, up 22% 
  • Reefer ratio: 25.2, up 6%

In the van market, load posts jumped 26% but truck posts were up only 6%, as many truckers were still taking time off. The national average van rate was $2.30/mile, up 19 cents compared to the previous week. 

Houston ($2.02/mile, up 11 cents) was the top market for outbound van volume and most of the top 100 van lanes saw higher rates. A sampling:

  • Chicago, $3.02/mile, up 10 cents
  • Columbus, Ohio, $2.87/mile, up 9 cents
  • Buffalo, N.Y., $2.87/mile, up 5 cents
  • Philadelphia, $2.35/mile, up 5 cents
  • Memphis, $2.58/mile, up 10 cents

Van markets where rates were down included Los Angeles ($2.86/mile, down 11 cents) and Dallas ($2.07/mile, down 7 cents). There were big drops on other van lanes that have been otherwise busy:

  • Los Angeles-Dallas was down 21 cents to an average of $2.27/mile
  • Dallas-Denver dropped 22 cents to $2.58/mile
  • Seattle-Salt Lake City lost 33 cents to $2.44/mile

Reefer load posts on DAT load boards increased 14% while reefer truck posts increased only 7%. The national average spot refrigerated rate increased 25 cents to $2.71/mile, a record high for reefers. Nogales, Ariz., was the only produce-shipping market to post any big rate increases last week. Miami, Sacramento, and Lakeland, Fla., all experienced sharp drops last week.

Demand for refrigerated trailers peaked at year-end but cold weather in parts of the country has kept prices at record levels where reefer trailers are used to keep freight from freezing.

Flatbed load posts surged 46% and truck posts increased 20% last week. The national average flatbed rate climbed 10 cents to $2.43/mile to start the year.

The national average price of on-highway diesel fuel increased another 10 cents to $3/gallon. Spot truckload freight rates include a fuel surcharge portion.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit dat.com/industry-trends/trendlines and join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.

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