Have Van Rates Hit Their Peak?

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The national average van rate has soared in the new year, hitting a whopping $2.30/mile on January 6th. That’s a new record high, breaking the one that was set just a week prior, and rates on a majority of the top 100 van lanes continued to climb last week.

As expected, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has made trucks harder to find, while winter storms and truckers taking time off for New Year’s Day made capacity even tighter last week. All of that has put pressure on prices to go up, but there were also the first signs of moderating trends.

Outbound rates were down in Los Angeles and Dallas, though that’s coming after some recent increases. Capacity is also starting to loosen in California, Nevada, and Florida, and there were more lanes with significant declines than what we’ve been seeing in recent weeks. As we move closer to what is typically the slow season, this may prove to be the peak for rates – unless we get more winter storms like the ones last week.

The Hot States Map for the last week in December showed every state dark red, meaning there were many more load posts and truck posts on the DAT Network of load boards for that state. Four states have gotten “looser” since then, but there’s still a whole lot of deep red up there.

Rising rates weren’t totally tied to winter weather, though. Houston was the top market for rising volumes, and outbound rates were up 6% on average. Denver rates were also up, while the rest of the West trended downward.

All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers.


  • Deep snow made it more difficult for trucks to operate on the Buffalo to Allentown, PA, lane, and the average van rate rose 41¢ to $4.22/mile.
  • The biggest increase was on the lane from Columbus to Buffalo, which rose 48¢ to $3.69/mile, but that wasn’t enough to offset the 59¢ drop in the Buffalo to Columbus direction

Temperatures on the round trip between Chicago and Minneapolis have been extra frigid, but rates were hot last week in both directions:

  • Van rates on Chicago to Minneapolis were up 39¢ to an average of $3.06/mile
  • The return trip from Minneapolis to Chicago was up 29¢ to $2.67/mile

In warmer conditions, the lane from Houston to New Orleans rose 18¢ at $2.92/mile.

Farther west, the lane from Denver to Oklahoma City rose 20¢ to $2.02/mile – Denver typically trends in the opposite direction of California, and California rates were generally down last week.


Like we were saying before, Dallas and Los Angeles outbound rates were down 4%, which could be the first signs of moderating trends for dry van freight, at least where weather isn’t a factor. Rates have spiked so high that it’s probably best to expect some to start coming down as we move away from the holidays, but like always, winter storms could change all of that.

Seattle rates continued to slide from previous peaks, with a couple big drops last week:

  • Seattle to Eugene, OR, plunged 95¢ to $2.69/mile
  • Seattle to Salt Lake City also lost 33¢ at $2.44/mile

There were more big drops last week than we’ve otherwise seen in the past couple of months. A few examples:

  • L.A. to Dallas was down 21¢ to an average of $2.27/mile
  • Dallas to Denver dropped 22¢ to $2.58/mile
  • Columbus, OH to Allentown, PA fell 36¢ to $3.78/mile

Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in DAT load boards, including rates from DAT RateView.

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