The flatbed load-to-truck ratio topped 100 for the first time this year to reach 102.7, meaning there were more than 102 available flatbed loads for every available truck on the DAT network. - Graph: DAT

The flatbed load-to-truck ratio topped 100 for the first time this year to reach 102.7, meaning there were more than 102 available flatbed loads for every available truck on the DAT network.

Graph: DAT

Spot truckload rates remained near all-time highs during the week ending May 3, one year after bottoming out as U.S. economies closed during the pandemic.

The seven-day average line-haul rate for dry vans was $2.27 a mile last week, 95 cents higher than the same period one year ago (line-haul rates exclude a fuel surcharge), according to DAT Freight & Analytics, which operates a load board network and a freight-data analytics service.

Spot refrigerated freight averaged $2.61 per mile, up 94 cents compared to the same week a year ago. The average flatbed rate was $2.62 per mile, a 93-cent increase year over year and 30 cents higher than the same period in 2018, when flatbeds rates were at their previous peaks.

With a fuel surcharge, the national average spot van rate was $2.68 a mile during the first three days of May. The reefer rate was $3.10 per mile and the flatbed rate $3.02.

Trends to Watch

Flatbed Loads

There are more than 102 flatbed loads for every available truck. Flatbed load post volume on the DAT network increased 3 percent week over week while the number of available trucks fell 7 percent.

The flatbed load-to-truck ratio topped 100 for the first time this year to reach 102.7, meaning there were more than 102 available flatbed loads for every available truck on the DAT network. The number of loads was more than four times higher than the same week last year, and 21 percent higher than the highest level reached in 2018, DAT officials said in a press release.

Rates rose despite lower volume. In the 10 largest flatbed markets, the rate increased by 18 cents per mile on average compared to the previous week despite a 7% decline in available loads.

Dry Van & Van Loads

The number of van loads on the DAT network increased 5 percent last week as shippers cleared their docks of month-end freight. Truck posts dropped by the same amount, leaving the van load-to-truck ratio largely unchanged at 4.9. The average line-haul rate for dry van freight was $2.27 per mile last week, up 3 cents compared to the previous week.

Van rates declined in large markets. At $2.45 per mile, the average spot rate in the 10 largest van markets fell 1 cent although the number of available loads was up 2 percent.

Reefer Loads

After falling for the previous three weeks, the national average reefer load-to-truck ratio increased to 10.7 loads per truck. The number of available reefer loads was up 11 percent last week and capacity tightened with 6 percent fewer trucks posted.

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