How Much Lower Can Van Rates Go?

February is usually the slowest month for freight, and carriers have been feeling the pinch on the spot market. The national average van rate slipped to $1.58 per mile last week. That includes the fuel surcharge, which has been falling at a pace of about 1¢ per week for a while now.

Things usually start to pick up again around March, with new seasonal demand leading to a bump in prices. For most carriers, March can’t get here soon enough.

Last week, volume was up sharply in several mid-sized markets, but increased demand hasn’t led to upward pressure on rates, at least not yet.

The Good

Most of the high-traffic van lanes saw relatively small declines, with a few notable exceptions.

  • Philly to Buffalo rates surged 34¢ per mile, likely due to bad weather
  • Charlotte was the only major market where the average outbound rate actually rose
  • California markets held steady, for the most part, without significant downturns

The Bad

Conditions are tough in Texas right now.

  • Dallas outbound rates lost an average of 7¢ per mile
  • The lane rate from Houston to New Orleans fell 15¢.

The Ugly

  • Denver to Dallas lost 15¢
  • Dallas to Denver lost 13¢
  • Average roundtrip rate: $1.33 per mile. Yuck


Daily maps, along with detailed information on demand, capacity and rates for individual markets and lanes, can be found in the DAT Power Load Board. DAT rates are based on actual rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers, as recorded in DAT RateView.