Demand for flatbed trucks in the USA has steadily increased over the past two years, with the national average flatbed truck rates hitting the highest levels since 2010, according to DAT RateView.
In May 2018, the national average rate stood at USD2.71 per mile, up on the USD2.1 per mile in May 2017 and the USD1.92 per mile in May 2016.
DAT’s data found that line haul rates, excluding the fuel surcharge, have risen about 35 percent since May 2016. When fuel is included, there has been a 41 percent increase in the total rate paid by brokers to the carriers.
The hot flatbed truck sector in the USA has benefitted from a steadily improving economy and strong developments in the manufacturing and construction sectors.
With record levels, the flatbed load-to-truck ratio has exceeded 100 loads per truck for seven weeks in a row on DAT load boards - an unprecedented result, says DAT.
According to DAT, there are a number of factors driving the flatbed demand, including the oil and energy sector, the construction industry plus high levels of automotive sales, providing hauliers with ample work transporting steel and auto parts.
However, electronic logging device (ELD) requirements, which came into effect in mid-December, are adding pressure on the already tight flatbed truck capacity.
Flatbed fleets tend to be smaller than their van and reefer counterparts, says DAT, and small carriers were the most likely to wait until the last minute to implement ELDs. Many, according to DAT, are still adjusting their operations and schedules to accommodate electronic logs.