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Spot freight surges to kick off summer shipping season

Spot freight surges to kick off summer shipping season

National average spot truckload rates for refrigerated and flatbed freight increased during the week ending May 27 while the rate for van freight slipped due to a lower fuel surcharge and despite strong freight volumes, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Overall, the number of available loads on DAT load boards increased 2.3% compared to the previous week and posted capacity fell 0.7% as truckers parked equipment to avoid pre-holiday traffic.

Load-to-truck ratios for vans and reefers ended the week higher:

  • Van ratio: 4.2 loads per truck, up 13%
  • Reefer ratio: 7.8, up 8%
  • Flatbed ratio: 34.2, down 11%


A 1-cent drop in the national average fuel surcharge caused the van rate to dip a penny to $1.68/mile. Nationally, the number of posted van loads increased 12% while truck posts declined 2%, likely signaling the start of summer retail shipments.

Rates on the top 100 van lanes surged with the strongest showing of the year and outbound rates were up in almost every major van freight market:

  • Los Angeles: $2.09/mile, up 7 cents
  • Chicago: $1.93/mile, up 7 cents
  • Houston: $1.82/mile, up 5 cents
  • Charlotte: $2.06/mile, up 10 cents
  • Philadelphia: $1.67/mile, up 2 cents


The national average rate for reefers was $2.01/mile, up 2 cents compared to the previous week. Reefer load posts gained 9% while truck posts fell 4%.

Central California produce volumes returned in a big way. Outbound reefer rates soared 13% to $2.41/mile in Fresno, led by several key lanes:

  • Fresno-Denver surged 52 cents to $2.70/mile on average
  • Fresno-Chicago was up 35 cents to $2.16/mile

The average length of haul for produce shipments was longer, which helped to soak up extra capacity and push rates higher. Two notable reefer lanes: Lakeland-Atlanta rose 44 cents to $2.30/mile, and Miami-Baltimore was up 35 cents to $2.63/mile.


The national average flatbed rate moved 1 cent higher last week at $2.10/mile. Flatbed load posts declined 7% while truck posts increased 4%. Los Angeles had the highest flatbed volumes outside of Texas. Flatbed rates are still volatile from one week to the next, so there are still some big drops, even if there aren’t many, DAT notes.

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, visit

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