How to Find Capacity in a Snowstorm

Winter Storm Stella has arrived. As I write this, there are 84 weather restrictions in effect in the Northeast. All commercial vehicles have been banned from I-84 in Pennsylvania, and New York State has closed I-84 to all traffic. Numerous other interstates in the Northeast have reduced speed limits and banned empty trailers and tandems.

View of Winter Storm Stella on the thruway at the New Baltimore, NY Travel Plaza on March 14. Flickr: GovernorAndrewCuomo

Just ahead of the storm, inbound rates rose sharply yesterday on lanes heading from the Southeast into the Northeast. Using DAT RateView™, I compared yesterday’s 1-day van rate with the 7-day average rates among the regions. Rates from the Lower Atlantic to the Upper Atlantic region shot up by 12¢ on Monday. Rates from the Carolinas to New England jumped 11¢, and rates from Florida and South Georgia up to New England rose 9¢, compared to the previous week’s average.

There was also a 14¢-per mile surge Monday on lanes from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast, suggesting that shippers were re-positioning freight outside the storm zone, but close enough to bring it into the Northeast as soon as the roads are clear. Unfortunately, the Southeast is icing up now, so the whole mess could take a few extra days.

If you’re relatively new to the freight brokerage business, you may be asking, “How do I find capacity in a snowstorm?” Here are four tips, including links to some helpful tools from DAT.

1. Use your TMS

Check your company’s transportation management software (TMS) to see what loads your brokerage is currently moving. There may be a truck completing a delivery near your current load’s point of origin. If not, check your TMS for reliable, qualified carriers who have trucks in the area.

2. Think local

During a major snowstorm or other unpredictable event, you may need to use a carrier you’ve never worked with before. If you need to move a load to a certain location, search for carriers who are based there and are likely to need loads that get their drivers home. The DAT Directory, available in all DAT Load Boards, will show you where a carrier is domiciled. DAT Power load board users can also check the LaneMakers tool for carriers who frequent specific lanes. Once you identify a carrier, quickly validate the company’s DOT authority, insurance, and safety rating with DAT CarrierWatch®.

3. Reach drivers on the road


Do you broker freight out West? See our recent blog post: California’s Weather Impacts Truckload Capacity.

When you’re in a hurry, the best time to reach a driver is when his truck is empty, and he’s checking his smartphone for a load out. When you post your load to the DAT Extended Network, your load can be seen by more than 100,000 drivers who have downloaded the DAT Trucker mobile app. This free app allows drivers — even those not on the DAT network — to see loads within a certain radius of their current location.

4. Post a rate when you post a load

Nothing gets a carrier’s attention faster than a good rate per mile. Many brokers prefer not to include the rate when posting on a load board, but if you’re in a rush, your competitive rate will attract carriers. Check DAT RateView to see how your rates compare to the current market rate in each lane. Right after the storm clears, there will be more urgent demand for trucks, so you’ll be more competitive if you can boost your offer above beyond the seven-day average that you see in RateView.

To learn more about DAT RateView or request a demo, please contact our award-winning customer service team at 800.551.8847 or complete this online form.