Spot loads dropped for vans, reefers and flatbeds, DAT reports

April 14, 2022

Special to Land Line


The total number of loads on DAT MembersEdge fell 13% last week, continuing a trend of softer freight availability. The number of van loads was down 13% week over week, the number of reefer loads fell 7.5%, and the flatbed load count declined almost 15%.

It’s not unusual to see load-posting volumes dip at this time of year, when long-term freight contracts kick in for bigger carriers and we’re weeks ahead of shipping summer produce and retail goods.

However, the overall number of loads on the network is down 27% since the first week of March. All three equipment types are soft and the angle of decline is not typical.

At the same time, there were more trucks on the network than there have been at any point so far this year, and the most since the week before Thanksgiving 2021. The total number of trucks posted on the network increased 9% last week. Dry van equipment posts increased 9.4%, reefer posts rose 7.4%, and flatbed posts were up 13.2%.

Load-to-truck ratios declined for all three equipment types:

  • Van load-to-truck ratio was 3.4 as a national average, down from 4.3 loads per truck.
  • Reefer load-to-truck ratio was 6.6, down from 7.6.
  • Flatbed load-to-truck ratio was 63.0, down from 83.6.

While ratios have fallen from historic highs in January and February, van and reefer ratios are almost identical to the same week in 2018.

Spots van and reefer rates tumbled last week:

  • Van freight averaged $2.89 a mile, down 6 cents from the week before.
  • Reefers averaged $3.18 a mile, down 7 cents from the previous week.
  • Flatbeds averaged $3.34 a mile, up 4 cents from the previous week.

These are averages for the seven-day period of April 3-9. Spot rates are an “all-in” rate and include a calculated fuel surcharge. Removing fuel, these are the average spot line-haul rates last week:

  • Van – $2.25 per mile, down 7 cents compared with the previous week.
  • Reefer – $2.55 per mile, down 5 cents.
  • Flatbed – $2.70 per mile, unchanged.

Historically, rates are still high. At $2.89 a mile last week, the national average van rate is 3 cents higher compared to the same time last year.

However, spot rates are falling quickly at a time when costs have jumped. Since the beginning of March, the national average spot van rate is down 30 cents a mile, fuel is up $1.12 a gallon, and the number of available van loads on the network has fallen 33%.

This analysis comes from Dean Croke, DAT’s principal freight analyst. He can be heard discussing the market on Land Line Now.

DAT MembersEdge is a service provided exclusively to OOIDA members at a discounted price.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit the load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at per industry-trends per Trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook.