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Record number of drivers needing assistance: AMA

Last Updated Feb 6, 2019 at 2:24 pm MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — The Alberta Motor Association says it is seeing a record number of drivers needing assistance thanks to this extreme cold across the province.

Roadside Assistance says it received more than 31,000 calls since Sunday and rural calls about dead batteries are also up nearly nine times the average.

“We’re seeing record numbers of roadside requests, and have called in additional staff — dispatchers, call centre workers, service vehicle operators and contractors to rescue as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” explained Ryan Lemont, Manager of Fleet Operations for AMA. “But due to the sheer volume and these dangerously cold temperatures, we urge drivers to put their safety first and seek shelter rather than waiting with their vehicles.”

RELATED: Cold weather causing several bus cancellations near Calgary

With a reprieve still days away, the AMA is suggesting members plug their vehicle in for at least four hours while the outdoor temp is -15C or below.

The AMA also has the following tips for drivers:

– If you have any doubts about your battery’s health on a cold day, consider alternate transportation until a test is completed or new battery is installed. This could save you from being stranded at roadside in extreme temperatures.
– If your vehicle doesn’t have a block heater, switching to synthetic oil in the winter will help the engine turn over.
– Ensure your gas tank is at least half full and consider using gas-line antifreeze.
– Limit road travel to necessary trips and make sure you have an emergency roadside kit on hand. It should contain, at minimum, a warm blanket, warm clothing, basic first aid, water, a snow brush, and a cell phone charger.
– If your vehicle breaks down, your safety comes first. Please get to a warm place and don’t wait in your vehicle, as extreme temperatures make it dangerous to be outdoors (even inside a car).
– Drive to conditions, keeping in mind that roads are extremely slick and additional stopping distance is required.
– Ensure your tires are properly inflated, as most tires lose one pound per square inch for every 5C drop in temperature

The most up-to-date wait times can be found on the AMA’s website.