‘One of the worst prolonged periods in AMA’s history’

Warmer temperatures are in sight, but that doesn’t mean a slow-down for roadside rescue crews, who’ve been working round the clock since the historic cold spell set in.

Tuesday, Jan. 9, through Wednesday, Jan. 17, AMA received more than 49,000 calls about everything from dead batteries to snowbound vehicles in need of winching. Requests for boosts were as high as 33 times the norm at some points, making the past week one of the worst prolonged periods in AMA’s nearly 100-year history in terms of sheer volume.

Friday, Jan. 12, marked the peak for roadside requests, with more than 9,000 calls in a 24-hour period. Every available operator and contractor had been enlisted to help, along with temporary workers from partners like GlassMasters, Lube City and ATS Traffic, who to-date have performed roughly 1,000 boosts for AMA members.

The backlog of requests means it'll take time before it's business as usual for emergency roadside workers—especially in areas where snow is in the forecast. To stay protected, AMA offers these tips:

  • Always carry an emergency kit to help ensure your safety in the event of an unexpected breakdown. This should include things like a blanket, warm clothing, caution triangles, a flashlight, gloves, and a folding shovel.
  • Prior to driving, plug in your vehicle for at least four hours when the outdoor temperature is -15°C or below.
  • Ensure tires are properly inflated, as most tires lose one pound per square inch for every 5°C drop in temperature.
  • Ensure both front and rear lights are turned on. (Daytime running lights often just illuminate the front, providing a false sense of visibility.)
  • If you have any doubts about your battery's health, consider alternate transportation until a test is completed or new battery is installed.
  • If your vehicle doesn't have a block heater, switching to synthetic oil will help the engine turn over.
  • Ensure your gas tank is at least half full and consider using gas-line antifreeze.
  • While driving, scan the road ahead and maintain a safe following distance that allows for adjustments. When the roads are icy or snowy, this means four to six seconds.

Information provided by AMA

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