DAT Truckload Volume Index: Spot freight volumes, rates fell in October

Carriers showed resilience amid higher costs and competition

DENVER, Colo., November 28, 2022 — The DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI) for van and refrigerated loads declined in October but remained in line with previous years, said DAT Freight & Analytics, which operates the DAT One truckload freight marketplace and the DAT iQ data analytics service.

The DAT TVI for van freight was 234, down 4.5% compared to September and 1.7% lower year over year. The refrigerated (“reefer”) TVI was 173, 1.7% lower than in September and 2.4% higher than in October 2021. 

The flatbed TVI increased 0.8% to 239 and was 17.1% higher year over year.

“The volume of loads moved on the spot market last month tracked with October in previous years,” said Ken Adamo, DAT Chief of Analytics. “However, available capacity posted to the DAT One network far outpaced the number of available loads. Carriers showed their resilience in the face of higher fuel prices, lower rates, the absence of peak-season demand and more trucks in the marketplace.”

Spot rates slumped
Average spot van and reefer rates have declined each month in 2022 while line-haul rates (subtracting an amount equal to an average fuel surcharge) were at their lowest levels since the supply shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spot van rate fell 2 cents to $2.43 per mile, down 44 cents year over year, and the line-haul rate was $1.77 per mile, the lowest since June 2020. The average reefer rate was $2.81 per mile, down 4 cents month over month and 47 cents lower year over year. The line-haul rate (net fuel) was $2.09 a mile, the lowest since July 2020.

The average flatbed rate was $2.88 per mile, 3 cents lower than in September and down 22 cents compared to October 2021. The average line-haul rate was $2.09 a mile, 54 cents less year over year.

Spot truckload rates are negotiated for each load and paid to the carrier by a freight broker. DAT bases its rate analysis on $137 billion in annualized freight transactions.

Load-to-truck ratios fell
The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 2.9, meaning there were 2.9 available loads for every van posted to the DAT One load board network. The van ratio was 3.5 in September and 5.6 in October 2021. 

The reefer load-to-truck ratio was 5.1, down from 6.3 in September, and the flatbed ratio was 12.5, down from 13.3 in September.

Spot and contract rates diverged
The national average shipper-to-broker contract van rate increased by 2 cents to $3.09 a mile, 66 cents higher than the average spot price and 21 cents higher than the contract rate in October 2021. The average contract reefer rate was $3.38 a mile, up 1 cent, while the average contract rate for flatbed freight was unchanged at $3.62 a mile.

“The spread between spot and contract van rates has grown every month this year,” Adamo said. “This trendline is shifting—shippers are negotiating more favorable pricing. As lower rates take hold and show up on carrier invoices in Q1 2023, the gap between spot and contract pricing will narrow and the next freight cycle will begin.”

About the DAT Truckload Volume Index
The DAT Truckload Volume Index reflects the change in the number of loads with a pickup date during that month; the actual index number is normalized each month to accommodate any new data sources without distortion. A baseline of 100 equals the number of loads moved in January 2015, as recorded in DAT RateView, a database of rates paid on an average of 3 million loads per month.

DAT’s national average spot rates are derived from payments made to carriers by freight brokers, third-party logistics providers and other transportation buyers for hauls of 250 miles or more.