On a national level, we’re seeing indications that spring has sprung on the spot truckload freight market, DAT Solutions says.

The number of available spot market loads gained 12% during the week ending March 5, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards. Available capacity slipped 1.9%, which helped elevate national average van, reefer, and flatbed freight rates compared to the previous week.

The national load-to-truck ratio climbed to 3.5 loads per truck, meaning there were 3.5 loads for every truck posted on the DAT network.

The national average van rate increased 2 cents to $1.56 per mile as the number of van load posts increased 12% and capacity dipped 2% during the week. The van load-to-truck ratio rose from 1.4 to 1.6, and hot spots in the U.S. economy boosted small markets like Decatur, Ala.; Texarkana, Texas; and Rapid City, S.D.

Reefer load posts picked up 10% and volume was up markedly in big metro areas like Los Angeles and Dallas. The number of truck posts fell 2% nationwide, bumping the refrigerated load-to-truck ratio up 12% from 2.8 to 3.1. The national average reefer rate increased 1 cent to $1.80 per mile.

Flatbed load volume continued to gain, adding 13%, while capacity declined 4%. The flatbed load-to-truck ratio was up 18% to 14.8, and the national average flatbed rate gained 3 cents to $1.83 per mile.

The national average diesel price moved back up above $2 a gallon, gaining 3 cents to $2.02.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck available on DAT load boards. The load-to-truck ratio is a sensitive, real-time indicator of the balance between spot market demand and capacity. Changes in the ratio often signal impending changes in rates.

DAT Trendlines is a weekly report on spot market freight availability, truck capacity, and rates.