DAT Solutions: More trucks, less freight – and good rates

January 24, 2018

Special to Land Line


Load counts on the MembersEdge load board stayed high through the third week of January despite a 3.5 percent dip in posts compared to the previous week and a 4.6 percent jump in available trucks. The national average spot van and flatbed rates were down slightly while the average refrigerated rate was unchanged.

Spot rates may be in a seasonal decline but they’re still pretty good as they fall away from historic highs. Let’s look at the trends.

Ratios fall: Van and reefer load-to-truck ratios were down for a second straight week after hitting multiple peaks in early January:

  • Van load-to-truck ratio – 9.8, down from 10.7 the previous week
  • Reefer ratio – 15.5, down from 18.4
  • Flatbed ratio – 53.9, up from 53.7

Van posts slip: Van load posts fell 5 percent and truck posts increased 4 percent as the national average spot van rate fell 1 cent to $2.27 per mile.

Elevated rates: Rates were down on most of the top 100 van lanes but stayed elevated in key markets:

  • Dallas, $2.05/mile, up 2 cents
  • Philadelphia, $2.43/mile, up 11 cents
  • Chicago, $3.05/mile, up 5 cents
  • Memphis, $2.61/mile, up 6 cents

L.A. Skids: Los Angeles dropped 14 cents to $2.53/mile after losing 16 cents the previous week.

Reefers thaw: The national average reefer rate was unchanged at $2.70/mile as load posts fell 10 percent and truck posts increased 7 percent.

Hot markets: Capacity was in demand in Northeast hubs, including Philadelphia ($3.46/mile, up 16 cents) and Elizabeth, N.J. ($2.35 per mile, up 10 cents), where traffic has been affected by winter weather. Reefer load counts and rates fell off sharply from Nogales, Ariz., as domestic produce begins to displace imports from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Flats stays even: Flatbed load posts increased 3 percent, truck posts were up 2.5 percent, and the national average flatbed rate fell 2 cents to $2.40 per mile.

Key Flatbed Markets

  • Las Vegas, $2.89/mile, up 7 cents
  • Phoenix, $2.24/mile, up 6 cents
  • Savannah, Ga., $2.78/mile, up 5 cents
  • Houston, $2.65/mile, up 8 cents
  • Harrisburg, Pa., $3.76/mile, up 18 cents
  • Los Angeles, $2.53/mile, down 14 cents

Flatbed rates were softer in the Midwest, including outbound from Rock Island, Ill. ($3.03/mile, down 16 cents), and Cleveland ($2.64/mile, down 10 cents).

Fuel up: The national average price of on-highway diesel fuel remained near a three-year high at $3.03/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. 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.