Truck Count Rises 7 Percent, Loads Drop 10 Percent as Spot Rates Slip

Van load-to-truck ratio falls to eight-month low.


Truckload capacity continues to build in the first weeks of 2019, and national average spot rates for dry van, reefers, and flatbeds continue to decline.

In a typical seasonal slump, the number of trucks on the spot truckload freight market increased 7.4 percent while the number of loads dipped 10 percent during the week ending Jan. 19, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

National average spot rates declined for the second straight week:

  • Van: $2.01/mile, down 4 cents
  • Flatbed: $2.38/mile, down 4 cents
  • Reefer: $2.37/mile, down 5 cents


Van truck posts on DAT load boards increased 8 percent compared to the previous week, while load posts declined 13 percent. That caused the van load-to-truck ratio to drop 19 percent from 4.6 to 3.7 loads per truck.

That’s the lowest van load-to-truck ratio in eight months.

The worst drops in rates in the past month have been from the West Coast, where average outbound spot rates from Los Angeles and Seattle are down double digits since December. This is not unexpected, as the threat of higher tariffs pushed higher ocean volumes to U.S. shores during Q4 2018.


Flatbed load posts on DAT load boards fell 2 percent while truck posts increased 13 percent. The national flatbed load-to-truck ratio fell from 25.1 to 21.7 loads per truck.


Last week truck posts increased 5 percent while load posts fell 15 percent, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to drop from 6.1 to 4.9 loads per truck. It’s been more than six months since the load-to-truck ratio has been below 5 loads per truck.

Average spot rates were down on several key regional reefer lanes and major markets across the country.

  • Los Angeles: $2.92/mile, down 11 cents after an 18-cent decline the previous week
  • Atlanta: $2.56/mile, down 5 cents
  • Lakeland, Fla.: $1.46/mile, down 9 cents
  • McAllen, Texas: $2.24/mile, down 7 cents
  • Philadelphia: $2.90/mile, down 5 cents
  • Chicago: $2.80/mile, down 14 cents after falling 13 cents the previous week

DAT Trendlines are generated using DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $60 billion in freight payments.