Competition with railroads, plus extra trucks on the spot market, kept rates in check most of the year. But last week, the national van load-to-truck ratio hit 3.7 loads per truck. That’s the highest it’s been since early January. The reefer load-to-truck ratio was also the highest since January. That helps vans, since those reefer trucks are busy when they might otherwise have competed for van freight. So we can expect conditions to improve for vans.

Van rates continued to trend up last week, in fact, but it’s a slow and steady trend. The national average added 1¢ to $1.69/mile, while prices rose on 55 of the top 100 van lanes. That’s compared to just 30 lanes that paid less than the previous week. (The other 15 were unchanged.)

A quick note about load-to-truck ratios: These should be viewed as more of a barometer than a thermometer. When there are 3.7 van load posts per truck post, the important part of the story is not the number itself but whether it moves up or down from one week to the next, or one market to the next. The ratio is useful as a pressure gauge, to see if demand for trucks is going up or down in a specific place or time. Whichever way the ratio goes, rates often follow.

Darker-colored states have higher load-to-truck ratios, meaning that there’s less competition for van loads in those states.

Dallas and Denver had a lot more loads available last week. The whole state of Texas has been hot for spot market freight. Half of the top 6 markets for van load posts on DAT TruckersEdge last week were in Texas:

Top Six Markets for Load Posts, May 14 – 20

1. Atlanta
2. Houston
3. Charlotte
4. Dallas
5. Lakeland, FL
6. Laredo, TX

Philadelphia and nearby Allentown, PA, both had more loads last week, but rates moved in opposite directions – down in Philly, up in Allentown.

All rates below are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers. Lane rates are available in TruckersEdge Enhanced.


Outbound rates from Chicago continued to lag, but one exception was the lane to Buffalo. It’s a relatively low-volume lane, but it happened to have the biggest jump in price last week: Up ?16¢ to $2.31/mile

Rates on the lane from Atlanta to Philadelphia rose ?14¢ to an average of $2.30/mile

Denver had the biggest increase in volumes last week, and rates also rose on some major inbound lanes. For example, the lane from Stockton, CA, to Denver paid ?12¢ better at $2.03/mile


Most declines were small, with a few exceptions:

  • Memphis to Columbus dropped the most, down ?13¢ to $1.90/mile
  • Atlanta to Memphis lost ?11¢ to $1.71/mile, but rates were up ?12¢ in the opposite direction
  • Houston to Oklahoma City has been topsy turvy, and last week it was down ?13¢ to $1.80/mile