Spot truckload volume increased 11% during the week ending April 2 as shippers moved freight out the door to close the first quarter on a high note, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards. 

This happened as available truck capacity fell 5.5%, driving up load-to-truck ratios across all three equipment types – a possible indication rates may continue to head higher.

Month-over-month, spot volume was 42% higher in March compared to February. However, it was 28% less compared to a year earlier.

In the van market, the number of posted loads increased 16% last week as the national average van rate added a penny to $1.57 per mile (including fuel surcharge). Several key markets experienced higher average outbound rates compared to the previous week. Chicago rose 3 cents to $1.77 per mile; Houston added 3 cents to $1.45; Los Angeles gained 1 cent to $1.82; and Buffalo jumped 4 cents to $1.93. Nationally, the van load-to-truck ratio was 1.9:1, a 23% gain.

“While the van rate increases aren’t dramatic, they are trending upward over the past month in popular lanes, especially in the Southeast and South Central regions,” said DAT.

The number of reefer load posts increased 3%, while truck posts fell 2% last week. As a result, the national average reefer load-to-truck ratio rose 5% to 3.2:1. The reefer rate was unchanged at $1.82 per mile.

Flatbed load volume rebounded 12% and capacity decreased 10% last week, for a 23% hike in the load-to-truck ratio. The national average flatbed rate picked up 4 cents to $1.91 per mile, which is 9 cents better than three weeks earlier.

The steady to increasing rates happened as the national average diesel price was unchanged at $2.12 a gallon.