Spot market freight availability climbed 7.5% in February 2014, achieving unprecedented levels in the middle of the first quarter, typically the quietest time of the year for freight transportation. Extreme winter weather across the United States disrupted normal supply chain networks, sending freight to the spot market to meet capacity needs.
Compared with January, load availability rose only 1.3% for refrigerated (reefer) trailers, but advanced 9.1% in February for vans and 16% for flatbeds.
Year-over-year freight volumes surged 83% to a new single-month record for the 18-year history of the DAT North American Freight Index. Reefer freight volume more than doubled with a 112% increase, while van freight increased 87% and flatbed freight rose 71%.
Capacity demands boosted spot market rates to atypical highs in February, especially for reefers and vans. This is evidenced in the year-over-year increase in all three major equipment types, as rates climbed 14% for reefers, 23% for vans, and 4.7% for flatbeds. In contrast to January 2014, which had similar weather disruptions to the supply chain and unseasonal freight on the spot market, rates increased a more modest 6.7% for reefers and 2.7% for vans, but declined 1.3% for flatbeds.
Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for linehaul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which increased month-over-month but declined versus February 2013. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the DAT Network of load boards in the United States and Canada. Additional trends and analysis are available at DAT Trendlines.
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