Where to Find Flatbed Loads in the Off-Season

Flatbed load availability declined 24% last week on the spot market, as load board activity paused for Thanksgiving. The load-to-truck ratio rose 11%, to 6.4 loads per truck, however. It's the beginning of the off-season for flatbeds, so every little surge helps.

Hot Markets for the week included Medford, OR; Rapid City, SD; Omaha, NE; Little Rock, AR; Shreveport, LA; and Montgomery, AL. Columbus and Cleveland, OH also offered plenty of loads.

A shortage of trucks led to high load-to-truck ratios that turned entire states dark green in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, but there were not a lot of loads available in those areas. When in doubt, check in advance to see what kind of loads are posted for your return trip, and price your head haul accordingly.

The national average flatbed rate was unchanged last week at $1.92 per mile, down 5¢ from the October average. Rates trended up in Los Angeles, Rock Island, Cleveland and Memphis. In other key flatbed markets, rates declined, including: Houston, Atlanta, Tampa and Harrisburg.

Flatbed TriHaul Route: Mobile → Roanoke → Chattanooga → Mobile

You can find some decent loads in Mobile, AL, and Roanoke, VA is one possible destination. Unfortunately, there aren't many loads to choose from on the return trip, so a TriHaul could be your best bet.

This route takes you to Chattanooga for a reload. As an added bonus, you bypass both Atlanta and Charlotte, with only 6 extra miles of driving. Actually, you might consider taking this road in both directions!

Flatbed hauls paid $1.68 per mile from Roanoke to Chattanooga last week, and the leg from Chattanooga back to Mobile went for $2.30 per mile. You’ll come away with almost $400 more for taking that second load, with no additional driving.

Here's the math:

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. TriHaul route suggestions are offered in DAT Express and DAT Power load boards. 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.

Categories: Rate Trend of the Week

Peggy Dorf

Peggy joined DAT in 2008 as a writer and market analyst. She was instrumental in developing DAT Trendlines, and she writes extensively about the impact of economic trends on companies and individuals in transportation and logistics. Peggy is a Certified Transportation Broker with decades of experience in technology marketing and an MBA from the Wharton School.



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