Spot Market Van Rates Soared in September

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The national average van rate rose for the fifth week in a row. At $1.97 per mile, the average rate in September was 18¢ higher than the August average, and 35¢ higher than September 2016. The national load-to-truck ratio also hit 7.0 last week – cracking the 7 loads-per-truck mark is uncharted territory for a national van average.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma obviously played a big part in all this, but that wasn’t the whole story. A big increase in port volumes back in July led to more truckload demand last month, too, since much of that freight didn’t start moving on trucks until August and September. Other indicators showed an improving economy in Q3, which also contributed to higher demand.

Meantime, rates and volumes are starting to come back down to normal in the Southeast, but supply chains throughout the rest of the country are still feeling the ripple effects, as evidenced by all the dark red in the Hot States Map below.

All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between carriers and brokers.


Columbus is a key distribution point for the Midwest and the Northeast, and it shipped more to the Southeast after the storms. Freight disruptions have caused rates to skyrocket there in the past month.

  • Columbus to Allentown, PA, surged 50¢ to an average of $3.86/mile
  • Columbus to Memphis climbed 37¢ to $2.28/mile

Chicago prices also continued to climb:

  • Chicago to Denver added 38¢ at $3.05/mile
  • Chicago to Buffalo was up 37¢ to $3.27/mile
  • Chicago to Dallas rose 18¢ to $2.45/mile

Increases were common but less pronounced elsewhere. One exception was out West:

  • Rates on the lane from Seattle to Salt Lake City gained 36¢ at $2.25/mile


We’re seeing more of a moderating trend compared to recent weeks, with lower van volumes and some declining prices. Rates were still high on the lanes with the biggest drops, though.

  • Atlanta to Lakeland, FL, fell 19¢ but still averaged $3.24/mile
  • Atlanta to Miami was down 22¢ to $3.43/mile
  • Lots of Florida-bound freight also comes from Charlotte, and rates on the Charlotte-to-Lakeland lane also dropped 20¢ to $2.88/mile


For carriers, van loads coming out of Seattle often pay backhaul rates, but rates have been on the rise on a few lanes in recent weeks. One lane that still doesn’t pay well, though, is the one from Seattle to Stockton, CA. That averaged just $1.43/mile last week. If you need to get from Seattle back to Stockton, though, you can make more money if you create a TriHaul that takes advantage of one of those higher-priced lanes.

Vans got paid an average of $2.45/mile last week from Stockton to Seattle. Instead of hauling cheap freight back to California, grab a load from Seattle to Reno, NV. That lane paid an average of $2.49/mile last week. From there, it’s a relatively short haul from Reno to Stockton, for about $2.95.

The extra stop adds about 130 miles, not including deadhead, but it can boost your revenue by more than $1,200. That gives you an average of $2.52 per loaded mile for the TriHaul, instead of $1.94 for the roundtrip.


To find better-paying roundtrips on the lanes you’re running, use the TriHaul tool in DAT TruckersEdge Pro and DAT Power.

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