DAT North American Freight Index Reflects Record Freight, Rates in March

  • 56% increase in freight availability year-over-year in U.S. and Canada
  • Significant rate increases for van, refrigerated, and flatbed loads

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 14, 2014)—Freight availability on the DAT North American Freight Index rose 56% in March compared to the same month in 2013, DAT Solutions reported today.

In the United States alone, the year-over-year change was even more dramatic: a 64% increase was divided among the three equipment categories: van freight was up 63%, flatbeds rose 58%, and refrigerated (“reefer”) freight increased 70%.

17% increase month-over-month

Compared to February, freight volume increased 17% in March. Extraordinary volume from December through February was attributable to extreme winter weather that disrupted supply chains nationwide during what is usually a slow season. In March, however, freight volume also received a boost from increased economic activity and normal seasonal trends, in addition to pent-up demand from recurring storms.

Much of the increased seasonal volume was in the flatbed segment, where load availability rose 38% compared to February. Van freight added 10% and reefer loads increased 7% month-over-month.

Rates Rise Significantly

Continued pressure on capacity buoyed spot market rates as well. Year-over-year rate increases were significant for all three major equipment types: 25% for vans, 20% for reefers, and 13% for flatbeds. Compared to February, when extreme weather led to unusual freight volumes on the spot market, rates in March rose 6.7% for vans, 3.6% for reefers, and 4.8% for flatbeds.

Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for line haul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which increased on a month-over-month basis but declined compared to March 2013. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the DAT Network of load boards in the United States and Canada.  Additional trends and analysis are available at DAT Trendlines.