DAT SOLUTIONS: Spot rates slide, but freight activity holds firm

August 9, 2018

Special to Land Line


Spot truckload rates on MembersEdge fell last week as the overall number of loads slipped 0.7 percent and capacity declined 1.3 percent.

The national average van rate was down 6 cents to $2.24 per mile compared to the previous week while the flatbed rate fell 3 cents to $2.75 per mile and the reefer rate was 8 cents lower at $2.54 per mile.

Van and reefer load availability increased, though, reflecting a strong spot freight market for late July and early August. And that $2.24 per mile van rate? It equals the monthly average for January, a record at the time. Rates may be falling but they’re still dropping down from a high.

To the trend lines.

Ratios firm up
Van and reefer load-to-truck ratios made slight gains while the flatbed ratio settled lower into a typical mid-summer pattern, albeit at an elevated level compared to previous years.

  • Vans: 7.1 loads per truck
  • Flats: 36.4
  • Reefers: 9.4, above the July average of 8.8

Diesel unchanged
As a national average, the price of diesel was unchanged at $3.22 per gallon.

Van markets solid
The number of available van loads increased 3 percent compared to the previous week while truck posts declined 1 percent. Average outbound rates were steady in several key markets.

  • Los Angeles: $2.80 per mile, down 2 cents
  • Atlanta: $2.45, down 2 cents
  • Allentown, Pa.: $2.65 per mile, down 1 cents

Buffalo wings
On a lane-by-lane basis, van rates involving Buffalo showed big gains.

  • Chicago to Buffalo surged 33 cents to an average of $3.33 per mile
  • Buffalo to Chicago added 15 cents to $2.00 per mile
  • Buffalo to Charlotte gained 27 cents to $2.56 per mile

Lemons and lemonade
The number of reefer load posts increased 3 percent last week while truck posts dropped 4 percent. Reefer load counts were up sharply in California, Texas and the Midwest, while a disappointing lemon harvest in Mexico appears to be affecting shipments coming across the border at Nogales, Ariz.

A little perspective
The number of flatbed load posts was down 7 percent while truck posts increased 1 percent compared to the previous week. The 36.4 load-to-truck ratio is still a strong number. The flatbed ratio was 14.4 in July 2016 and 37 in July 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.