Spot van and reefer rates improve

May 8, 2019

Special to Land Line


It took a while, but spot rates at least were pointing the right direction last week. Better weather combined with a 4% increase in the number of available loads on DAT MembersEdge pushed spot van and reefer rates higher.

National average spot rates through May 5

  • Van: $1.82 per mile, 1 cent above the April average.
  • Refrigerated: $2.18 per mile, 3 cents higher than April.
  • Flatbed: $2.33 per mile, 1 cent lower

The price of fuel was $3.17 per gallon as a national average, nearly unchanged from the previous week.

Van trends

Individual lane rates are trending up as rates increased on 53 of the top 100 van lanes last week, the first time in six weeks that more lanes were up than down. The national average van load-to-truck ratio rose from 1.6 to 1.8 last week.

Where rates are rising

The average outbound spot van rate from Charlotte increased 3 cents to $1.99 per mile as a number of outbound lanes improved.

  • Charlotte to Buffalo, up 11 cents to $2.24 per mile.
  • Charlotte to Atlanta, up 5 cents to $2.30 per mile.
  • Charlotte to Memphis, up 6 cents to $1.57 per mile.

The load-to-truck ratio from Charlotte peaked around April 29 to May 1 and softened through the rest of the week. Is this an end-of-month surge or the beginning of a sustained upward trend? We’ll see.

Reefer trends

The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio climbed to 2.9 last week, a sign that produce-shipping season is stepping into a higher gear.

Where rates are rising

In Florida, the number of spot reefer loads from Lakeland was up 13% and freight paid an average of $2.21 per mile, 49 cents higher compared to the previous week. Volume from Miami jumped 20% and paid $2.59 per mile, a 51-cent increase. Check out the jump in average rates on these lanes:

  • Lakeland to Baltimore, up 85 cents to $2.86 per mile.
  • Lakeland to Charlotte, up 57 cents to $2.62 per mile.
  • Miami to Boston added 62 cents to $3.09 per mile.
  • Miami to Baltimore gained 51 cents to $3.05 per mile

Where rates are falling

In general, California is slower than usual, with freight volumes down nearly 3% compared to the previous week. Months of wet weather delayed planting in many regions but should deliver strong harvests later, including near-record numbers of cherries and table grapes.

Tri-haul of the week


Van rates are up from Charlotte to Buffalo. A tri-haul can maximize your profits if you want to head back.

Charlotte to Buffalo averaged $2.24 per mile last week but the return was $1.94 per mile. The tri-haul function in DAT MembersEdge suggests a stop in Baltimore as a way to build revenue. Buffalo to Baltimore paid $2.74 per mile while Baltimore to Charlotte averaged $1.83 per mile.

A Buffalo-Baltimore-Charlotte tri-haul would add 126 miles to your return trip and boost your overall rate per loaded mile by 16 cents. That’s almost $500 extra if you can make the route work with your schedule.

DAT tri-haul of the week chart

These rates represent averages from last week and, as always, the rate you charge is between you and your customer.

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 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. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.