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AMA sees seven times usual requests for tows in extreme cold

Amidst huge call volume for roadside assistance, Alberta Motor Association reminds drivers of how to stay safe in extreme cold.
Cars, as well as people, suffer outdoors in extreme conditions. The AMA offers tips for driving safely this holiday season. Photo supplied.

As of Tuesday morning, AMA Roadside Assistance requests for full service (e.g. tow or winch) are at seven times the normal volume, while requests for light service (e.g. boosts, unlocks) are more than four times normal. AMA expects these numbers will continue to remain high the longer the extreme cold weather sticks around.

“The extreme cold has caused a spike in requests for roadside assistance, with thousands more calls than we typically see this time of year,” said Brandon Klassen, with Automotive Services at AMA.

AMA has all available roadside assistance operators on the road, responding to those in most critical need of support first. 

“While the snow and wind blowing in with the cold temperatures slow down traffic, the added weather conditions also increase the risk faced by workers at the roadside," said Klassen. “We’re asking everyone to please give tow truck operators the space they need to help broken down motorists safely."

Klassen adds that anytime drivers see flashing amber, or blue and amber, lights activated on a stopped tow truck, slow down and move over to provide a full lane of clear space.

Tips to drive into the holiday weekend safely:


  • Plug in your vehicle for three to four hours before driving.
  • Limit your driving during cold periods and dress for the weather. A quick trip to the grocery store can be dangerous if your vehicle breaks down and you’re left in the cold without proper winter attire.
  • Ensure your gas tank is at least half full and your mobile phone is charged, and always carry an emergency roadside kit. This should include things like a blanket, warm clothing, caution triangles, a flashlight, gloves, and a folding shovel (these are available pre-made at AMA).
  • Scan the road ahead and maintain a safe following distance that allows for adjustments. When the roads are icy or snowy, this means at least four to six seconds.
  • Drive to the weather, keeping in mind that the posted speed limit refers to ideal conditions.
  • If you find yourself broken down at the roadside, please get to a warm, safe place as soon as possible.


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