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Spot van rate hits $3 milestone in December

Jan. 19, 2022
DAT’s Truckload Volume Index was 236, a 3% decline compared to November, when the Index set a record for the number of loads moved by carriers in a month, and was up 18% year-over-year, reflecting strong truckload freight volumes as 2021 came to a close.

Van and refrigerated (reefer) truckload freight rates hit new highs in December, with national average prices up 21.9% and 29.5%, respectively, compared to the same period a year ago, according to DAT Freight & Analytics.

National average truckload spot van and reefer rates increased for the seventh consecutive month and the average van rate reached $3 per mile for the first time. Spot truckload rates are negotiated on a per-load basis and paid to the carrier by a freight broker.

DAT’s Truckload Volume Index (TVI) was 236, a 3% decline compared to November, when the index set a record for the number of loads moved by motor carriers in a month. The TVI was up 18% year-over-year, reflecting strong truckload freight volumes as 2021 came to a close. The number of loads posted to the DAT One load board network increased 13.7% in December while truck posts fell 10.5%. Compared to December 2020, load posts increased 48.8% and truck posts were up 6.9%.

“While it’s not unusual to see a decline in the number of loads moved from November to December, spot-market volume was historically strong last month,” said Ken Adamo, chief of analytics at DAT. “Truckers experienced unparalleled demand during the holiday season.”

Van rate up 54 cents year-over-year

  • At $3 a mile, the national average spot rate for van freight was up 7 cents compared to November and 54 cents higher than in December 2020.
  • After increasing 17 cents month-over-month in November, the average spot reefer rate rose 2 cents to $3.47 a mile in December. The spot reefer rate has set a new high for six straight months and is 79 cents higher compared to the same period last year.
  • The national average rate for flatbed loads on the spot market increased 2 cents to $3.08 per mile, a 59-cent gain year-over-year.

Flatbed load-to-truck ratio jumps 36% 

  • The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 6.5, up from 5.2 in November, meaning there were 6.5 available loads for every available van on the DAT network. The reefer load-to-truck ratio was 14.0, up from 11.9 in November.
  • The flatbed ratio jumped to 51.1 from 37.5 the previous month, as unseasonably warm weather extended the construction season.

Contract rates hold steady

  • The national average shipper-to-broker contract van rate was $2.94 per mile, up 1 cent month over month. The average contract reefer rate fell 1 cent to $3.11 a mile, while the average contract rate for flatbed freight was unchanged at $3.34 a mile.
  • The national average diesel fuel surcharge was 40 cents a mile for van freight, down 1 cent from November when the surcharge was at a seven-year high.
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