DAT Solutions: Load volumes rise – are rates next?

March 7, 2018

Special to Land Line


The number of load posts on DAT MembersEdge surged 7.6 percent during the week ending March 3 as freight and rates appear poised for a spring revival.

More freight and a 2 percent dip in the number of posted trucks didn’t move van or reefer rates higher but they did boost load-to-truck ratios for all three trailer types.

  • Van loads per truck ratio: 7 loads per truck, up 5 percent
  • Flatbed loads per truck ratio: 79.9, up 13 percent
  • Reefer loads per truck ratio: 10.6, up 15 percent

Those ratios may go up in the weeks ahead. The rush by shippers to push freight out the door by the end of Q1 coincides with the Easter weekend and the April 1 end of the phase-in period for the ELD mandate. We’ll wait and see how truckers respond.

Van trends
After seven weeks of declining rates, last week the national average van rate was unchanged at $2.14 per mile. Van load posts increased 4 percent while truck posts fell 1 percent, and at 7 the load-to-truck ratio is about three times higher than the van ratio at this time last year.

Van markets to watch
Rates rose on 66 of the top 100 van lanes, including some big ones:

  • Columbus, Ohio, $2.64 per mile, up 5 cents
  • Philadelphia, $2.18 per mile, up 7 cents
  • Houston, $1.97 per mile, up 5 cents
  • Memphis, $2.58 per mile, up 7 cents
  • Atlanta, $2.40 per mile, up 5 cents
  • Los Angeles, $2.14 per mile, up 2 cents

Load counts were up 9 percent in Chicago last week, and the average outbound rate jumped 4 cents to $2.67 per mile.

Reefer trends
The national average reefer rate declined 3 cents to $2.40 per mile. That’s the sixth week in a row that reefer rates have fallen. Reefer load posts increased 11 percent last week while truck posts declined 3 percent.

Hot reefer markets
More lanes were up than down as we transitioned into the new month. Volumes were up in Florida, where rates could go higher this month. Two lanes got a head start:

  • Miami-Atlanta added 24 cents to $1.75 per mile
  • Lakeland-Charlotte shot up 50 cents to $2.27 per mile

Flatbed trends
The average flatbed rate was $2.39 per mile, up 4 cents. We’re seeing an early spring for flatbeds, and the 80-to-1 load-to-truck ratio tells us it’s tight everywhere. Extremely strong markets include AtlantaBirminghamMemphisGreen Bay and Cleveland.

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. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit the MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com/industry-trends/trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.