DAT Solutions: Rates, load availability close 2017 at record highs

Special to Land Line | Thursday, January 04, 2018

ELDs, crazy weather, holidays at home – truckers had plenty of reasons to take time off during the week ending Dec. 30, but there was money to made if you wanted to work instead.

National average spot van and refrigerated truckload rates on DAT MembersEdge ended the year at their highest points as capacity tightened during the last week of 2017. Let’s look at the trends.

Load-to-truck ratios jump. The number of available loads fell 22 percent while the number of trucks posted decreased 36 percent, in line with expectations for a holiday-shortened business week. Load-to-truck ratios increased sharply for all three equipment types:

  • Vans: 12.3 loads per truck, up 22 percent, setting an all-time high for vans
  • Flatbeds: 52.3, up 26 percent 
  • Reefers: 23.7, up 33 percent

Van rate gains again. In the van market, load posts were down 22 percent and truck posts fell 36 percent. The national average van rate increased 2 cents to $2.11/mile, the highest national average in three and a half years.

Making money moves. Outbound van rates were up big-time in major markets, including Los Angeles ($2.92/mile, up 14 cents), Charlotte ($2.48/mile, up 10 cents), Atlanta ($2.45/mile, up 7 cents), Dallas ($2.12/mile, up 18 cents), Buffalo ($2.82/mile, up 15 cents), Philadelphia ($2.32/mile, up 20 cents), Chicago ($2.95/mile, up 15 cents), and Columbus, Ohio ($2.78/mile, up 15 cents).

Reefer rate spikes. The national average spot refrigerated rate increased 6 cents to $2.46/mile, its highest point since July 2014. Reefer load posts declined only 9 percent while the number of trucks posted plunged 32 percent. 

Tight capacity. Tighter capacity helped push up rates in key reefer markets including Grand Rapids, Mich. ($3.74/mile, up 29 cents), Chicago ($3.29/mile, up 26 cents), Philadelphia ($3.03/mile, up 21 cents), Los Angeles ($3.22/mile, up 28 cents), Atlanta ($2.75/mile, up 12 cents), Lakeland, Fla. ($1.58/mile, up 19 cents), McAllen, Texas ($2.37/mile, up 26 cents), and Dallas ($2.39/mile, up 27 cents).

Flatbeds hold firm. Flatbed load posts were down 32 percent and truck posts dropped off 46 percent last week. The national average flatbed rate held steady at $2.33/mile compared to the previous week, just 1 cent lower than the peak rate in October.

Pain at the pump? The national average price of on-highway diesel fuel was unchanged at $2.90/gallon. Prices are nearly 50 cents higher than this time last year and surging again during the first week of January. Spot truckload freight rates include a fuel surcharge portion.
Rates are derived from DAT Rate View, 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 OOIDA’s 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.