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DAT: spot rates and freight volumes are up

The flatbed segment continues to remain particularly strong, firm says.

According to DAT Solutions, the number of loads posted to its network of load boards jumped 3.6% during the week ending March 24, with truck capacity increasing 1.3% and load-to-truck ratios strengthening as a result.

In the flatbed sector, the load-to-truck ratio hit 87.7 – the third straight week in the 86-to-88 range – while the dry van ratio increased slightly to 6.9 and the refrigerated or “reefer” ratio climbing to ratio: 10.5, up 3.7% from the previous week.

With freight volume building ahead of the end of first quarter alongside the start of the penalty phase of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and Easter weekend, national average spot rates are “holding firm,” said DAT:

  • Flatbed spot rate: $2.52 per mile, up two cents to reach its highest rate since the summer of 2014.
  • Dry van spot rate: $2.13 per mile, down a penny compared to the previous week.
  • Reefer spot rate: $2.40 per mile, unchanged for the fourth week in a row.

Drilling down into the various trucking segments, DAT said flatbed volumes on its load boards rose 5.6%, building on a 9% increase the previous week. Arizona was the only state in the lower 48 with a flatbed load-to-truck ratio below 18.

Of the top 75 flatbed lanes, the firm said spot rates were lower on just 25 last week. Rock Island, IL, saw its average flatbed spot rate rise 22 cents to $3.61 per mile with Houston spot rates now close to $3 per mile on high-volume lanes—another good sign for truckers hauling out of the nation’s biggest energy freight hub, DAT emphasized.

In the dry van segment, the number of available loads rose 2% versus a 1% increase in the number of truck posts. Spot rates were higher on 57 of DAT’s top 100 dry van lanes, with several key markets witnessing significant jumps:

  • Houston: $2.11 per mile, up a penny compared to the previous week. The average outbound rate has increased 8.6% over the past four weeks
  • Columbus, OH: $2.68 per mile, up five cents.
  • Buffalo, NY: $2.62 per mile, up seven cents.

Meanwhile, DAT said reefer load posts increased 3% while truck posts were virtually unchanged, leading to big gains on average spot rates along several key lanes last week:

  • Grand Rapids, MI—Philadelphia, PA: up 21 cents to $4.05 per mile.
  • Philadelphia—Boston: up 15 cents to $4.58 per mile.
  • Dallas—Houston, up nine cents to $2.93 per mile.

Yet average reefer spot rates from two “bellwether” outbound produce markets were lower, noted DAT: Lakeland, FL, dropped three cents to $1.66 per mile, while Atlanta fell four cents to $2.73 per mile.


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