Weather Drives Up Spot Market Freight and Rates in February: DAT Freight Index

Portland, OR – Spot market freight availability climbed 7.5 percent in February, achieving unprecedented levels in the middle of the first quarter, typically the quietest time of the year for freight transportation. Extreme winter weather across the country disrupted normal supply chain networks, sending freight to the spot market to meet capacity needs.

Compared to January, load availability rose 9.1 percent in February for vans and 16 percent for flatbeds, but only 1.3 percent for refrigerated (“reefer”) trailers.

DAT Freight IndexYear-over-year freight volumes surged 83 percent to a new single-month record for the 18-year history of the DAT North American Freight Index. Van freight increased 87 percent, flatbed freight rose 71 percent and reefer freight volume more than doubled with a 112 percent increase.

Capacity demands boosted spot market rates to atypical highs in February, especially for vans and reefers. This is evidenced in the year-over-year increase in all three major equipment types, as rates rose 23 percent for vans, 14 percent for reefers and 4.7 percent for flatbeds. Compared to January 2014, which had similar weather disruptions to the supply chain and unseasonal freight on the spot market, rates rose a more modest 2.7 percent for vans and 6.7 percent for reefers, but declined 1.3 percent for flatbeds.

Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for line haul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which increased on a month-over-month basis but declined compared to February 2013. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the DAT Network of load boards in the United States and Canada. Additional trends and analysis are available at DAT Trendlines.