DAT Freight Index: Spot Market Truckload Volume Sets Record in March, Driven by Demand for Flatbeds

PORTLAND, Ore., DATE — Spot truckload freight availability rebounded in March, to set a new 20-year record for the DAT North American Freight Index. The 38 percent increase in volume, year over year, was due largely to extraordinary demand for flatbed equipment to move industrial cargo for energy and construction.

The Freight Index, a monthly measure of demand for spot market freight, is published by DAT Solutions, which operates North America’s largest load board marketplace.

Flatbed freight rates also set a record in March, at $2.53 per mile, including fuel. Flatbeds got a 16-cent increase month over month, and were paid a full 50 cents more than the average for March 2017.

Van rates rose 3 cents compared to February, and 52 cents year over year. Rates for refrigerated (“reefer”) cargo were down 1 cent at $2.40 per mile month over month, but reefer rates rose 53 cents compared to March 2017.

Rates continued to rise sharply through the first week in April, which is not typical after the close of a fiscal quarter. Van rates are on track to exceed their previous record high of $2.24 per mile, achieved in January, and flatbed rates continue to reach new heights, as well. Reefer rates are lagging, however, because spring produce harvests have not reached their peak.

“Economic growth, particularly in the energy sector, supports heightened demand for truckload transportation, and capacity is not keeping up with that demand,” said DAT industry analyst Mark Montague. “Unless something changes, we can expect rates to continue rising at least until the end of June.”

Established in 1978, DAT operates a network of load boards serving intermediaries and carriers across North America. For more than a decade DAT has published its Freight Index, which is representative of the dynamic spot market.

Referenced rates are the averages, by equipment type, based on $45 billion of actual transactions, as recorded in DAT RateView. Reference rates per mile include fuel surcharges, but not accessorials or other fees. The DAT Freight Index reflects load posting volume on the DAT network of load boards, and 100 on the Index represents the average monthly volume in the year 2000. Additional trends and analysis are available at DAT Trendlines.

DAT Freight Index: Spot Market Truckload Volume Sets Record in March, Driven by Demand for Flatbeds

DAT Trend Lines

Industry Trends - Spot MarketIndustry Trends - VanIndustry Trends - FlatbedIndustry Trends - ReeferIndustry Trends - Fuel Prices
Industry Trends WEEK MONTH YEAR
Apr 1 – 7 vs.
Mar 25 – 31
Mar 2018 vs.
Feb 2018
Mar 2018 vs.
Mar 2017
Spot Market Loads +3.2% +27% +92%
Spot Market Capacity 2.7% +14% 7.0%
Van Load-To-Truck +2.8% 1.5% +116%
Van Rates (Spot) +4.2% +1.4% +32%
Flatbed Load-To-Truck +9.3% +37% +148%
Flatbed Rates (Spot) +4.0% +6.8% +25%
Reefer Load-To-Truck +5.8% +7.0% +68%
Reefer Rates (Spot) +3.3% 0.4% +28%
Fuel Prices +1.1% 1.9% +17%
Rates Rise as ELD Penalty Phase Begins

Flatbed Load-to-Truck Ratio Hits All-Time High

Apr 1 – 7 – There’s often a lull following the end of Q1, but spot market rates for vansreefers and flatbeds roared in the first week of April, compared to the March averages. Last week was the first week in which trucks would be placed out of service for not having an ELD, and load-to-truck ratios rose for vans, reefers, and flatbeds, indicating tight truckload capacity. The flatbed ratio hit an all-time high of 111 loads per truck.

DAT Trend Lines

SPECIAL OFFER: Free 50-Lane Look Up – Benchmark your rates against $45 billion in actual transactions.  Learn More >

National average spot market rates for the past four weeks, including fuel surcharges, are shown in the above graph. Weekly rate snapshots reflect averages for the month to-date, from DAT RateView.

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National United States Flatbed Shipping Rates

Flatbed Shipping Rates

National United States Flatbed Shipping Rates!

Feb 25 – Mar 3 – The national average flatbed shipping rate increased 4¢ to $2.39 per mile. Flatbed hauling rates have risen for the fourth week in a row. Capacity in the flatbed market also continues to tighten, as the load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds hit its highest point in years. These rates don’t include flatbed heavy or flatbed oversize loads.

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Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Impact on Flatbed Transportation

Artificial Intelligence





Artificial intelligence, abbreviated as A.I., is becoming increasingly relevant to the world as we know it. It is difficult to avoid a topic relating to A.I. when discussing any industry; whether that be in finance, health care, or transportation.  Artificial intelligence is poised to make a significant impact on the future of our industries. There is a substantial level of support in favor of A.I. technology, but there is also a strong opposition to artificial intelligence.

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Connecticut Transportation Budget in the Air as a Budget Deficit Looms

The Nutmeg state, officially known as Connecticut is a small state along the east coast with close proximity to major urban centers such as Boston, Providence, Springfield, and New York City. The state capital, Hartford, has historically been known for being the insurance capital of the world. Connecticut’s economy does not heavily rely on agriculture or a livestock centric economy. The economy of the state relies primarily on a service based model. Connecticut does still have a farming industry with Connecticut agriculture contributing roughly 4.6 billion dollars to the state’s economy every year. The primary agriculture products produced in Connecticut are dairy products, eggs, and greenhouse products such as flowers. The state also raises cattle but is not a large market in the state. Insurance and financial service companies are the core industries in the state economy with companies such as Aetna and United Healthcare’s headquarters being located in Hartford.Financial service companies, Insurance service companies Continue reading “Connecticut Transportation Budget in the Air as a Budget Deficit Looms”

The Government will cost you 20% more in shipping

A quick overview why the Government is costing you more to ship.

The Government will cost you 20% more in flatbed shipping
The Government will cost you 20% more in flatbed shipping

Don’t low ball your customer to ship or you will be taking it out of your pocket.

Effective December 18th 2018

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) (Government) established standards for Electronic Logging Devices (ELD). An ELD is electronic hardware that connects to a truck’s engine to automatically log hours of service (HOS). Regulating a driver’s hours of driving service is to help prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. Drivers have until December 18th, 2017 to implement use of ELDs or park it.

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New York Governor Gives the Stamp of Approval for Driverless Technology Road Testing

flatbed shipping
Driverless Technology

The state of New York, nicknamed the Empire State holds the third largest economy in the United States, trailing only Texas and California, New York’s economy is so large that it would rank in the top 20 largest economies in the world if it were its own independent country. Although New York is mainly known for its strong service based economy which includes; financial services, healthcare, and retail industries, it is also home to the Port of New York and New Jersey. The port is the busiest container terminal on the East Coast. If looking at tonnage alone, the port is the third largest in the United States. One of the cash crops for New York agriculture are hay and corn which is primarily used to feed the state’s livestock. New York’s economy is so strong that despite not being heavily agriculture or manufacturing based, there are still large volumes of flatbed carriers that come through New York. Continue reading “New York Governor Gives the Stamp of Approval for Driverless Technology Road Testing”

Investments to the Ports in Georgia Will Save Shippers Millions in Costs

Transportation Port of GeorgiaThe Peach State, better known as Georgia has fostered a growing economy through having a diverse set of major industries occupying the state. Agriculture is an integral part of Georgia’s economy. As the state’s nickname suggest, the Peach State is known for its peaches, but the state is also the number one pecan producer in the world. Other cash crops that come out of the state include; blueberries, peanuts and poultry products. Agriculture accounts for roughly $72 billion dollars of the state’s economy. According to the Georgia Farm Bureau, one in seven Georgians work in agriculture or a related field. A large agricultural industry typically means a high demand for flatbed shipping. Georgia is no stranger to transportation and logistics. Savannah, Georgia is known to have the fourth largest port in the United States. Georgia’s port supports over 369,000 jobs throughout the state as well as provides $20.4 billion dollars in income. Although these numbers are not quite as large as the agricultural sector, the ports play a significant role in the state’s growing economic infrastructure. The state’s rail system is also Continue reading “Investments to the Ports in Georgia Will Save Shippers Millions in Costs”

Arizona Ranks High for Flatbed Trucking Companies Inspection Activity

oversized load trucking companies
Compliance Trucking Rules Regulations Laws Word 3d Illustration

Ranked fourth for inspections in the United States, Arizona’s Department of Public Safety and other partner agencies have maintained a pace of up to nine inspections per lane-mile.

Arizona’s Department of Transportation, with jurisdiction over ports of entry, says 38 non-DPS agencies are also engaged in some degree of commercial motor vehicle inspection, adding delays for flatbed heavy haul carriers just trying to go about everyday flatbed shipping. Continue reading “Arizona Ranks High for Flatbed Trucking Companies Inspection Activity”