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Today’s Pickup: Spot loads, available trucks jump in week after Thanksgiving

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Good day,

Following a Thanksgiving week that saw loads depressed, but not rates, the spot freight market was going full steam ahead last week with loads climbing 64% on the DAT network of load boards. The number of available trucks also jumped, 22%, as rates continued to rise.

The spot rate for dry vans was up 2 cents to $2.09 per mile while the rate for flatbeds increased 1 cent to $2.30. Refrigerated loads saw no increase, holding steady at $2.43 per mile.

All the rates, though, are at unseasonably high levels, DAT reported. The spot and refrigerated rates are at three-year highs for November as a monthly average.

While the national reefer rate remained unchanged, several lanes saw dramatic increases in their outbound rates as the overall number of loads increased 55% and truck postings rose 12%. The reefer load-to-truck ratio is up to 40% at 13.2 loads per truck, DAT noted.

Los Angeles and Philadelphia outbound rates were both up 25 cents to $2.14 and $3.17 per mile, respectively. McAllen, Texas, saw a 21-cent increase to $2.23 while Dallas jumped 10 cents to $2.31 per mile.

On the van side, load post activity increased 68% and truck posts gained 23% as retail goods made their way across the country from West to East, DAT said.  The van load-to-truck ratio jumped 37% from 6.8 to 9.3 loads per truck and rates moved higher in Midwest and Eastern U.S. markets as shippers position holiday freight near major population centers.

The average outbound van rate from Columbus, OH, added 9 cents to $2.66 per mile. Philadelphia gained 4 cents to $2.05 per mile, and Dallas increased a penny to $1.89 per mile last week.

Flatbed load and truck posts increased as well, following the Thanksgiving holiday. The number of load posts gained 67% and truck posts 42%, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to rise 18% to 30.6 loads per truck. 

Did you know?

The most expensive tractor-trailer ever is believed to be “Darth Vader,” a Kenworth T-2000 model that hauls television technicians and equipment for live TV events.


“How do you get shippers and receivers to understand the plight of the motor carrier? The broker is in that role. How do you get the motor carrier to understand the plight of the shipper? The broker is in that role too.”

John Seidl, former FMCSA inspector, quoted in a DAT blog on the role brokers can play in ELD compliance

In other news:

More shippers turning to 3PLs

As capacity continues to tighten, a Stifel survey found that more shippers are turning to third-party logistics providers to move freight. (CCJ)

House roundtable to focus on autonomous trucks

An upcoming House roundtable event with trucking leaders is expected to focus on the role of autonomous trucks and platooning systems. (Transport Topics)

Judge rules carrier improperly classified port truckers

An administrative law judge has ruled that Intermodal Bridge Transport improperly classified drayage drivers in New Jersey as contractors and ordered the company to make them employees. (American Shipper)

Trucker Path adds parking prediction to app

Trucker Path has added a new parking prediction feature to its app, using historical data to predict how many spots may be available in a given location. (Overdrive)

Truckers keep up ELD fight

Truckers across the country are continuing last-minute efforts to stop the ELD rule from going into effect, holding rallies and using social media to get their message out. (Truckers News)

Final Thoughts

Spot rates continue to remain red-hot, inching up more this week, according the DAT. How long will this continue? Earlier this year, many experts predicted the ELD mandate would raise rates. If that happens, the rates we are seeing now may become the new normal.

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.