DAT SOLUTIONS: Spot freight market tightens, capacity improves

September 7, 2018

Special to Land Line


The number of loads posted on DAT MembersEdge fell 3 percent while the number of trucks improved 5 percent during the week ending Sept. 1.

DAT Spot Rates Chart

National average spot rates softened but continue to trend nearly 20 percent higher compared to this time last year. The average van rate fell 1 cent to $2.14 per mile, the flatbed rate declined 2 cents to $2.64 per mile, and the refrigerated rate was unchanged at $2.49 per mile week over week.

Van trends
Van load posts fell 1 percent while truck posts increased 5 percent. The van load-to-truck ratio fell to 6.7 loads per truck. While most markets showed little change, rates increased on several key regional lanes.

  • Seattle to Spokane, Wash.: $3.71 per mile, up 4 cents
  • Columbus, Ohio, to Buffalo: $3.87 per mile, up 1 cent
  • Dallas to Houston: $2.60 per mile, down 1 cents

Reefer trends
Reefer load posts increased 2 percent last week while truck posts increased 6 percent. That caused the load-to-truck ratio to decline 4 percent to 9.2 loads per truck.

Nuts, onions and potatoes are contributing to high load-to-truck ratios in Oregon and eastern Washington. In the Midwest, the average outbound reefer rate in Chicago was up 18 cents to $3.37 per mile last week and has risen 12 percent in the past month.

Flatbed trends
The national flatbed load-to-truck ratio fell 10 percent to 25.3 loads per truck, resuming a downward trend after rising the previous week.

Oil and gas activity is having an impact. Drilling in the Permian Basin has slowed and demand for trucks has cooled out of Houston ($2.99 per mile, down 2 cents), the largest flatbed market in the country and the top market supplying Midland and surrounding counties.

Regional van markets like Dallas and Memphis—which send freight to Houston—seem to be affected by the slowdown in oil drilling as well.

Trend to watch
Overall, van volumes are 97 percent of where they were in 2017, and part of the story is that we have not fully replaced the lost productivity from implementation of the ELD mandate. Looking at August, rates remain 20 percent higher overall compared to last year, and van linehaul rates are 17 percent higher than August 2017.

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 per industry-trends per 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.