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Tight spot market capacity stimulates van freight rates

Tight spot market capacity stimulates van freight rates

The number of available loads on the spot truckload freight market jumped 5.4% during the week ending September 30, 2017, and tight capacity sent the load-to-truck ratio for van freight into uncharted territory, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Overall, the number of available trucks dropped 3.2% the week ending September 30 and pushed load-to-truck ratios higher for all three equipment types:

•Refrigerated—12.4 loads per truck, up 2%

•Van—7.0 loads per truck, up 10%

•Flatbed—50.2 loads per truck, up 16%

National average spot TL rates continue to simmer at two-year highs:

•Reefer—$2.23/mile, up 1 cent (up 15 cents month-over-month)

•Van—$1.97/mile, up 3 cents compared with the previous week. That’s 19 cents higher versus the same period in August and 35 cents higher year over year

•Flatbed—$2.27/mile, up 2 cents (up 8 cents month-over-month)

Reefer load posts increased 1% and truck posts declined 1% the week ending September 30. The ratio of 12.4 reefer loads per truck is the highest in years. Likewise, flatbed freight is moving in larger volumes to support rebuilding efforts in Florida and the Gulf Coast. Last week flatbed load posts rose 7% and truck posts fell 8% the week ending September 30, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to climb to 50.2 loads per truck—the highest in recent memory.

In the spot van market, the national average rate advanced for the fifth straight week. Rates and volumes are coming back down to normal after the storms in the Southeast, but supply chains throughout the rest of the nation are still feeling the ripple effects.

Van freight volume rates to Southeast markets picked up due to strong seasonal demand and supply chain disruptions after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey:

—Columbus OH-Allentown PA surged 50 cents to an average of $3.86/mile

—Columbus-Memphis TN climbed 37 cents to $2.28/mile

—Chicago-Denver CO added 38 cents at $3.05/mile

—Chicago-Buffalo NY was up 37 cents to $3.27/mile

—Chicago-Dallas TX rose 18 cents to $2.45/mile

The week ending September 30 marks the end of Q3. Truck capacity tends to be in higher demand before the close of a business quarter as shippers look to move inventory.

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, go to

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