UPDATE: Trucking community comes to aid of stranded Arrow drivers

| 12/23/2009

WednesdayDec. 23, 2009 – There has been an outpouring of support in the trucking world as nearly 1,400 truck drivers for Arrow Trucking Co. of Tulsa, OK, were left out in the cold when the company unexpectedly shuttered its doors on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has received hundreds of calls in the past two days, some from stranded Arrow drivers and even more from fellow truck drivers who have called in offering assistance to help the drivers get home. OOIDA staff kicked into high gear Wednesday matching help requests from Arrow drivers with truckers and friends who volunteered to provide assistance.

Late Tuesday afternoon, OOIDA had set up a support page for stranded Arrow drivers on Facebook. As of press time on Wednesday, the site had more than 1,600 fans. Some of those who posted comments were out of fuel and were stranded. But the overwhelming number of people who have posted comments were offering rides, money and even a place to stay until they could arrange transportation home.

Many Arrow drivers woke up Tuesday to the “Nightmare Before Christmas” to find out they were without jobs and needed to turn their trucks into the nearest Freightliner or International dealership.

Arrow driver Jeff Smith, who lives near Nashville, TN, had an inkling that something was wrong on Monday night when he tried to fuel up at a truck stop in Ohio. He found out that his fuel card had been turned off and he had no fuel to go any further.

To make things worse, it was 18 degrees outside and not much warmer inside Smith’s truck.

“So here my husband is stranded at this truck stop and no way to get fuel so he could get warm,” Smith’s wife Sherry Jacob-Smith told Land Line. “He could have frozen to death all because Arrow turned off his fuel card.”

She said several drivers at that truck stop pitched in with fuel money so Smith could make it another 500 miles to get home. She said he’s now looking at ways to pay it forward to help other drivers who are in similar predicaments.

This is just one example of kindness Arrow drivers have received from other drivers out on the road.

Trucker Tyree Samson said he and another Arrow driver were parked at the Houston terminal when they heard the news that the company was closing and they were to get off the lot. He said he and the other driver drove to a truck stop in Baytown, TX, where almost immediately other drivers stepped in with offers to help.

Fearful that their trucks would be repossessed if they left to go inside for food, a fellow driver parked his truck long-ways in an effort to block potential tow trucks from snatching their trucks before they could clear them out.

“Drivers often talk junk out here, but I have never seen anything like this since my days in the military,” Samson said. “One driver handed me a $100 gift card for fuel or to buy my wife something for Christmas. People were truly amazing.”

Both Daimler and Navistar Financial have offered to find Arrow drivers bus tickets on Greyhound Lines Inc. or $200 for their transportation costs.

Drivers with Freightliner or Kenworths are to call 877-294-9679 for assistance.

Drivers of International trucks are to call Navistar at 800-233-9121. Sara Mee, manager of communications for Navistar, said drivers who have a lease-purchase agreement with Arrow are to call that number for assistance as well.

“We have a shared interest in doing right by these drivers and getting this equipment off the road wherever they may be.”

Arrow drivers who need assistance can call OOIDA at 800-444-5791 and press 1, and leave their name and phone number where they can be reached. Land Line’s Facebook page will be monitored over the weekend.

Navistar’s Mee said staff there will also be available in case drivers need guidance.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer