Seasonal Lull Continues for Flatbeds, But Bright Spots Emerge

Flatbed freight availability dropped 13% on the spot market last week, after a one-week gain. Truck capacity increased, too, so the national average load-to-truck ratio declined from 12.8 to 10.4 loads per truck on DAT Load Boards. There were quite a few bright spots on the map, however, representing good opportunities for flatbed carriers.

The entire Pacific Northwest turned dark green in this Hot States Map from August 16-22, meaning that those states had high load-to-truck ratios. Oregon markets had plenty of loads last week, as did Eastern Washington. Loads were not nearly as plentiful in Montana and Wyoming, however, so check outbound freight before taking a load into those states. A few individual markets outside that region also offered a lot of loads, and trucks were relatively scarce, creating opportunities in Pittsburgh, Mobile, Savannah and Oklahoma City, among other markets. Daily maps, along with detailed information on demand, capacity and rates for individual markets and lanes, can be found in DAT Power Load Boards and in DAT RateView.

Flatbed rates were stable on the spot market at $2.07 per mile last week, as declining rates in Birmingham, Harrisburg and Baltimore offset increases in Tampa, Pittsburgh and Fort Worth. Rates are derived from DAT RateView, and are based on actual rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers. Reference rates include fuel surcharges but not accessorial or other fees. This map of flatbed rates in key regional markets can also be found on DAT Trendlines.

There is still plenty of flatbed freight in Texas, and rates there are trending up. Grab a load from Houston to Lubbock. If you don’t complete the 581-mile trip in a single day, you’ll start your return trip to Houston late on Day #2. Look for a load from Lubbock to Fort Worth, which is paying $1.86/mile this week. In Fort Worth, you should have no problem finding a second load to take you back to Houston – or deadhead a few miles to Dallas and find a load there.

You can get better use of your rig and make $330 more, at an average rate of $2.15 per loaded mile instead of $1.88. Mileage and rates are calculated in the table, below. TriHaul route suggestions are offered in DAT Express and DAT Power load boards, and rates are derived from DAT RateView.