Van rate strength: 'I don't think I've ever seen that before'

DAT senior rate analyst Mark Montague on "unusually strong" spot truckload rates in the latter half of 2013:

Van rates rose in July instead of dropping, as is typical for the season. Even as freight volume finally tapered off after Thanksgiving, rates remained high. During Christmas week, van rates rose even further. The national average hit a peak of $1.95 per mile in the last full week of the year. I don't think I've ever seen that before, and I've been a transportation pricing analyst for decades.

Spot truckload rates across all equipment types climbed during the week ending Dec. 28, according to DAT Trendlines, a composite of the DAT network of load boards.

The national average flatbed rate added 4 cents during the week to $2.15 per mile, while the national average reefer rate climbed 3 cents to $2.12 per mile.

Nationally, the number of available dry van loads fell 47.8% and capacity diminished as well, dropping 33.8%. That pushed the load-to-truck ratio down 21.2% to 3.3 compared to 4.2 the prior week. Load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck posted on the DAT network of load boards.