Led by strong regional demand, spot truckload rates rose across all three equipment types during the week ending March 19, hitting their highest levels in at least a month, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

The number of spot market loads rose 8.7% compared to the previous week, while the amount of available capacity barely changed, falling just 0.2%.

The national average van rate rose 3 cents to $1.58 per mile, the reefer rate added 2 cents to $1.83, and the flatbed rate jumped 5 cents to $1.87. Much of the gains resulted from specific markets.

Regionally, outbound rates from Los Angeles were up 6 cents to an average $1.89 per mile, mostly on increased activity at the ports. Outbound van rates increased in other major markets. Chicago increased by 2 cents to $1.75; Atlanta, up 3 cents to $1.60; and Philadelphia, up 5 cents to $1.70.

Nationally, the van load-to-truck ratio increased from 1.5 to 1.6, meaning there were 1.6 van loads for every truck posted on the DAT network. Van load posts rose 7% last week while truck posts stayed the same.

Reefer load posts rose 10% while truck posts were up 1% last week. As a result, the load-to-truck ratio rose 9% to 3.3.

Flatbed load volume rose 11% and capacity declined 3%, propelling the load-to-truck ratio up 14% to 18.3.

The increases in rates came as the national average diesel price rose 2 cents to $2.12 a gallon.

The pickup in rates was not unexpected, with DAT Analyst Mark Montague writing recently in the DAT blog that freight markets were heating up as “underlying trends were strong.”

He attributed this partly to increased activity in the Sun Belt for van and flatbed freight, while produce season is getting into gear in the key states of California, Florida and Texas.