Today’s Pickup: Rates close out 2017 at yearly highs

Good day,

A holiday week did little to slow the rising tide of rates as 2017 came to a close. According to DAT Solutions, national spot rates for van and refrigerated loads reached their highest point of the year.”

The number of available loads fell 22% while the number of available trucks decreased 36%, the firm said, adding that the numbers were in line with expectations for a holiday-shortened business week. Load-to-truck ratios increased sharply for all three equipment types, with the van load-to-truck ratio up 22% to 12.3, an all-time high, and reefer ratio climbing 33% to 23.7. Even the flatbed ratio was up 26% to 52.3.

In the van market, load posts were down 22% and truck posts fell 36%. The national average van rate increased 2 cents to $2.11 per mile, the highest national average in three and a half years, DAT said.

In some major markets, rates climbed double digits, with Los Angeles ($2.92 per mile, up 14 cents), Charlotte ($2.48 per mile, up 10 cents), Atlanta ($2.45 per mile, up 7 cents), Dallas ($2.12 per mile, up 18 cents), Buffalo ($2.82 per mile, up 15 cents), Philadelphia ($2.32 per mile, up 20 cents), Chicago ($2.95 per mile, up 15 cents), and Columbus, Ohio ($2.78 per mile, up 15 cents) all increasing.

The national average spot refrigerated rate increased 6 cents to $2.46 per mile, its highest point since July 2014. Reefer load posts declined only 9% while the number of trucks posted plunged 32%. 

Again, some individual markets saw big gains due to tighter capacity, with Grand Rapids, Mich. ($3.74 per mile, up 29 cents), Chicago ($3.29 per mile, up 26 cents), Philadelphia ($3.03 per mile, up 21 cents), Los Angeles ($3.22 per mile, up 28 cents), Atlanta ($2.75 per mile, up 12 cents), Lakeland, Fla. ($1.58 per mile, up 19 cents), McAllen, Texas ($2.37 per mile, up 26 cents), and Dallas ($2.39 per mile, up 27 cents).

Flatbed load posts were down 32% and truck posts dropped off 46% last week. The national average flatbed rate held steady at $2.33 per mile compared to the previous week, just 1 cent lower than the peak rate in October.

Did you know?

After a delay, carriers will now have to pay their Unified Carrier Registration fees for 2018. The costs at $69 (0-2 trucks), $206 (3-5 trucks), $410 (6-20 trucks), $1,431 (21-100 trucks), $6,820 (101-1,000 trucks) and $66,597 (over 1,001 trucks).


“I think it’s really strong. You’ve got most of the major economies around the world in good shape.”

Timothy Fiore, head of ISM survey showing manufacturing growth, to the Wall Street Journal

In other news:

U.S. manufacturing index increases in December

A key manufacturing index increased in December, reaching a reading of 59.7, the second highest mark since 2011, according to the Institute for Supply Management. (Wall Street Journal)

Mitsubishi’s new CEO sees innovative leasing as option

Justin Palmer, the new president & CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso, says that one day fleets will lease trucks on-demand. (Fleet Owner)

FMCSA moves to exempt drivers waiting for diabetes clearance

FMCSA is looking to speed the process of drivers with diabetes to return to work, hoping to eliminate the wait time for receiving doctor clearance. (Transport Topics)

Toyota executive touts future of hydrogen

Toyota’s Doug Murtha says that the company’s Project Portal hydrogen truck has accumulated over 5,000 miles of testing so far and is providing good data for the company. (

FMCSA opens carrier registration period

After a 90-day delay, FMCSA is set to open the Unified Carrier Registration program to fleets, beginning Friday. (CCJ)

Final Thoughts

FMCSA is doing the right thing by drivers by moving to speed the process for them to return to work after a diabetes diagnosis. Currently, drivers who can return to work after seeking treatment can wait for months, even a year in some cases, before doctors will clear them to return. This may create more incentive for drivers to seek help as well.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.