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Current Freight Rates

Current Freight Rates – March 2020

March 19, 2020

The four major elements affecting the trucking market show inbound container shipments are down. Load volume is up. Truck capacity is steady, and fuel prices are down.

The impact of Coronavirus is being felt right away in the trucking market. has published its weekly Outbound Tender Volume Index, and it is at its highest level since tracking began three years ago. Of the two components of the OTVI, Van volumes have shown the most growth, due to the panic buying of paper products and food staples. Reefer volumes are up as well, but not to the extent of van volumes.

Freightwaves tracks outbound tender volume in 15 markets. 12 of the 15 showed positive gains week over week. Miami, Seattle, and Fresno had the largest gains. Savannah, GA, Laredo, TX, and Houston saw declines. For additional details on the Outbound Tender Volume Index, visit

March 2020 Freight Rates

Mar 09 – 15 vs Mar 02 – Mar 03 Feb 2020 vs Jan 2019 Feb 2020 vs Feb 2019
Spot Market Loads +18.2%
-7.5% +13.4%
Spot Market Capacity +0.8% -2.8% +13.7%
Van Load-To-Truck +31.0% -16.5% -8.0%
Van Rates (Spot) +3.2% -4.5% -5.4%
Flatbed Load-To-Truck +7.4% +19.1% +6.2%
Flatbed Rates (Spot) +1.0% -1.0% -7.8%
Reefer Load-To-Truck +33.2% -26.8% +4.0%
Reefer Rates (Spot) +1.8% -6.4% -5.3%
Fuel Prices -1.3% -4.5% -2.9%

*source’s latest trend lines report is showing rates are creeping up compared to February.  The report shows national van rate averages are at $1.82 per mile, up three cents from the February average. According to DAT, the Midwest has the highest average van rates at $2.03 per mile, and the lowest average rates are in the Northeast at $1.64 per mile. Load-to-truck ratios are highest in the Southeast and lowest in the Southwest.

Average van freight rates as of March 16 2020


Reefer freight rates are averaging $2.11 per mile, a two-cent increase from one month ago. Midwest reefer rates are highest at $2.45 per mile, and lowest in the Northeast, with an average of $1.88 per mile. Current load-to-truck capacity shows reefer demand is highest through the middle of the country and lowest in the Southwest, according to DAT.

Average US reefer freight rates as of March 16 2020


National average flatbed rates are at $2.20 per mile, a five-cent increase from the February average. The highest average flatbed rates are in the Midwest, at $2.41 per mile, and the lowest are in the West, with an average of $1.84 per mile. Load-to-truck ratios are strongest in the middle of the country and Southeast. The weakest ratios continue to be in the Southwest. For more details, visit

Average flatbed freight rates in the United States as of March 16 2020


Turning to fuel prices, the latest Energy Information Administration data shows the national average diesel price is at $2.73 per gallon. Regional diesel prices range from an average of $2.50 in the gulf coast states to $2.99 in the central Atlantic region. California diesel prices are averaging $3.63 per gallon.

Average diesel fuel prices in the US as of March 16 2020


Change from
02/24/20 03/09/20 03/16/20 Week Ago Year Ago
US 2.851 2.814 2.733 -0.081 -0.337
East Coast (PADD 1) 2.898 2.860 2.789 -0.071 -0.335
New England (PADD 1A) 3.023 2.990 2.918 -0.072 -0.282
Central Atlantic (PADD 1B) 3.081 3.045 2.989 -0.056 -0.324
Lower Atlantic (PADD 1C) 2.748 2.709 2.627 -0.082 -0.354
Midwest (PADD 2) 2.725 2.689 2.591 -0.098 -0.401
Gulf Coast (PADD 3) 2.627 2.577 2.504 -0.073 -0.365
Rocky Mountain (PADD 4) 2.826 2.803 2.742 -0.061 +0.202
West Coast (PADD 5) 3.424 3.399 3.322 -0.077 +0.175
West Coast less California 3.054 3.026 2.954 -0.072 +0.185
California 3.728 3.705 3.625 -0.080 +0.156

One of the biggest concerns facing many fleet operators right now is the shortage of drivers. For information on how to recruit and retain drivers in today’s market, visit the trucking blog at and search “drivers”. Some recent articles include Recruiting Truck Drivers by Going Outside the Box, and Recruiting and Keeping Drivers.

For more information on current freight trends, as well as up-to-date news about the trucking industry, visit the trucking news and information page.

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Current freight trends

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