Flatbed markets have been scorching in 2018. And just like with dry van and reefer freight, flatbed rates have been setting records this year.
Every week in DAT Trendlines, we report on the national load-to-truck ratios for each equipment. It's a simple enough calculation: Just take the number of load posts on DAT load boards, and divide that by the number of truck posts. It's more of a barometer than a thermometer. When the ratio goes up or down, rates usually follow suit. We don't treat it as a literal measurement of the number of loads per truck, since many truckers prefer not to post their trucks, and some loads are reposted when trucks are hard to find.
Those factors are especially pronounced in the flatbed segment, where load-to-truck ratios get an extra boost because flatbedders are even less likely to post their trucks. Still, the national flatbed ratio remained above 100 loads per truck for nearly two months this year. Even considering those other factors, that's extremely high, and prices followed suit. Those ratios were bolstered by the exceptional number of flatbed loads posted to the DAT load board so far this year.
DAT load boards provide the largest and most trusted digital freight marketplace in the trucking industry, with more than 270 million loads and trucks posted annually, plus insights into current spot market and contract rates based on $57 billion in real transactions.
Below are the top 10 markets for outbound flatbed load posts through June. At the top of the list, Little Rock, AR, already has more load posts in 6 months than it did in all of 2017 — and 2017 was a huge year on the spot market in its own right.
Pittsburgh re-entered the top 10, replacing Mobile, AL.