Amid extreme weather and tight capacity, national average spot truckload rates saw double-digit increases during the week ending Jan. 6, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

The number of available loads increased 27%, in line with expectations when a full workweek follows a holiday-shortened one. However, the number of trucks posted to DAT load boards was up just 7.4% and the imbalance pushed load-to-truck ratios up for all three equipment types:

The van load-to-truck ratio jumped 19% to 14.7 to 1, the highest van ratio ever recorded by DAT. The flatbed ratio surged 22% to 63.5 to 1 while the reefer ratio increased 6% to 25.2 to 1.

In the van market, load posts jumped 26% but truck posts were up only 6%, as many truckers were still taking time off. The national average van rate was $2.30 mile, up 19 cents compared to the previous week. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Houston, with an average rate of $2.02 mile, up 11 cents from the week before, was the top market for outbound van volume and most of the top 100 van lanes saw higher rates. Other top performers last week from the week before include:

  • Chicago, $3.02 per mile, up 10 cents
  • Columbus, Ohio, $2.87 per mile, up 9 cents
  • Buffalo, $2.87 per mile, up 5 cents
  • Philadelphia, $2.35 mile, up 5 cents
  • Memphis, $2.58 per mile, up 10 cents

Van markets where rates fell included Los Angeles, $2.86 per mile, down 11 cents, and Dallas, $2.07 per mile, down 7 cents. There were big drops on other van lanes that have been otherwise busy:

  • Los Angeles-Dallas, down 21 cents to an average of $2.27 per mile
  • Dallas-Denver dropped 22 cents to $2.58 per mile
  • Seattle-Salt Lake City lost 33 cents to $2.44 per mile

Reefer load posts on DAT load boards increased 14% while reefer truck posts increased only 7%. The national average spot refrigerated rate increased 25 cents to $2.71 per mile, a record high for reefers. Nogales, Arizona., was the only produce-shipping market to post any big rate increases last week. Miami, Sacramento, and Lakeland, Florida., all experienced sharp drops last week.

Demand for refrigerated trailers peaked at year-end but cold weather in parts of the country has kept prices at record levels where reefer trailers are used to keep freight from freezing, according to DAT.

Flatbed load posts surged 46% and truck posts increased 20% last week. The national average flatbed rate climbed 10 cents to $2.43 per mile to start the year.

During this time, the national average price of on-highway diesel fuel increased 1% week-over-week to $3 gallon.