DAT Freight Index shows spot market demand increased in December

Jan. 18, 2017

The DAT North American Freight Index rose 8% in December 2016, capping off an extraordinarily strong month for spot truckload freight and six straight months of increased volume, said DAT Solutions, which operates the largest trucking load board network.

E-commerce and grocery items were major sources of December freight for what is usually a quiet period on the spot market. Van freight availability increased 10% compared to November and surged 52 percent% year over year, for an average van load-to-truck ratio of 3.8, a 22% increase compared to November and 80% higher year over year.

The load-to-truck ratio measures the number of available loads for each truck posted on the DAT Network of load boards, and a change in the ratio often signals impending changes in rates.

The national average spot truckload rate for vans was $1.73 per mile including a fuel surcharge. The average rate was the highest for the year, up 7 cents month over month and 1 cent compared to December 2015.

The national average spot market rate was $1.98 per mile for reefers, up 2 cents from November to December and equal to the June peak season average. Compared to December 2015, the average rate was 2 cents per mile higher.

Despite a strong second half of 2016, spot market freight volume for the entire year fell 7.7% compared to 2015.