FreightTurn1 Photo: Sean Kilcarr/American Trucker

DAT: Spot rates are rebounding

The looming April 1 “hard enforcement” date for ELD compliance may add to the upward pressure on rates.

According to data tracked by DAT Solutions, the number of loads on the TL spot market increased 7.6% during the week ending March 3, with rates subsequently poised to rebound.

The load board operator said truck posts declined 2% for the week ending March 3, which helped push load-to-truck ratios higher for all three trailer types:

  • Dry van: 7 loads per truck, up 5%
  • Flatbed: 79.9, up 13%
  • Refrigerated: 10.6, up 15%

DAT also noted that after seven weeks of declines, the national average spot rate for the dry van sector is unchanged at $2.14 per mile, but rates increased in 66 of the top 100 dry van lanes. The company added that dry van load posts increased 4% while truck posts declined 1%. At 7.0 loads per truck, the van load-to-truck ratio is about three times higher than at this time last year.

While the national average spot rate for refrigerated or “reefer” freight declined three cents to $2.40 per mile, the number of available loads increased 11% compared to the previous week and truck posts declined 3%. Reefer load counts are roughly equal to where they were in mid-January, DAT noted.

Flatbed spot rates jumped four cents to $2.39 per mile, an increase for the fourth straight week. Capacity continued to tighten in the flatbed sector, DAT reported, and the load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds hit its highest point in years. Extremely strong markets include Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Green Bay, and Cleveland.

The firm added that TL capacity may tighten overall in the weeks ahead as end of the first quarter coincides with both Easter weekend and the April 1 “hard enforcement” date for compliance with the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

For example, an ongoing poll of trucking companies conducted by CarrierLists indicates that the “compliance rate” with the ELD mandate dipped six points to 87%, while the three-week moving average remained unchanged at 90%. 

While the three-week moving average for ELD compliance may have remained unchanged, Kevin Hill, president and founder of CarrierLists, said there are fewer than 20 working days until the final April 1 “hard enforcement” deadline.

“With 10% of fleets still needing to install ELD devices, we’ll likely see another chaotic period involving backorders and confusion in enforcement,” he noted.

The company added that one of the primary reasons for the dip in ELD compliance this week, along with the struggle to reach full ELD compliance, is due to shorter-haul fleets who continue to trend 10% or so below the compliance rates of longer-haul fleets.

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