As AAA emergency roadside teams prepare once again for severe wintry weather in Maryland, motorists are warned that calls for help may be limited to only those who are in hazardous situations. Motorists who are stranded in their driveway or other safe place may be asked to wait until conditions improve.
"AAA emergency roadside service drivers are fully prepared for this storm and are ready, willing and able to come to the rescue of those who are in danger. However, during extreme conditions, it is possible that AAA members who are stuck just outside of their homes or in a safe place, may be asked to wait for assistance until conditions improve," said Ragina Cooper-Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. "AAA rarely places limits on emergency roadside assistance requests; however, when the Governor of Maryland declares a state of emergency and road conditions are treacherous, AAA roadside assistance providers must remain available for those who are in great danger."
In January, requests for emergency roadside service by AAA Mid-Atlantic members climbed to record numbers. AAA Mid-Atlantic’s emergency roadside assistance volume topped 222,000 for the month, the highest monthly volume on record, shattering the previous record month of December 2010 by nearly 16,000. In addition, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s daily average requests for emergency roadside assistance topped nearly 7,200 in January, up from an average of 5,900 per day last January.
Call volumes will likely be low while precipitation is falling and schools are closed. "Most Maryland drivers heed safety warnings and stay home during the storm. When the roads begin to become passable, however, our call volumes soar as everyone digs out and begins to return to their regular schedules," said Cooper-Averella.
When the storm arrives, AAA recommends that all drivers stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to drive. "It is important for everyone to remember that there will be disabled motorists such as doctors and first responders, as well as those with an immediate life threatening medical crisis, who must get to their destinations. We must all do everything possible to free up emergency response personnel to assist those who need it the most," Cooper-Averella added.
Safety Tips While Waiting For Any Emergency Roadside Service
1. Move your vehicle as far off the road as possible and stay on level ground. (AAA members are advised to drive to a safer location such as a nearby parking lot if vehicle can be driven).
2. Use extreme caution while on the roadside.
3. Exit on the side of the vehicle away from traffic.
4. Set flashers, flares, or hang a white flag to warn other motorists.
5. Consider leaving the vehicle for a safer location.
6. Do not stand directly behind or in front of the disabled vehicle. In some circumstances you may wish to remain in the car, but always wear your seatbelt.
7. Once you are in a safe location, call AAA or your roadside service provider. Motorists disabled on Maryland highways are advised to call #77 from their mobile phone for assistance.
AAA Mid-Atlantic Safety Reminders After the Storm Ends:
· Do not warm your car up in a closed garage due to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
· Be sure to clear any ice, snow which may be blocking your tailpipe to avoid possible carbon monoxide poisoning even if the car is outside.
· Clear off snow entirely from vehicle: windows, mirrors, headlights, hood, trunk, and roof.
· Once roads are safe, watch for excited sleigh riders who may find the greatest hill ever is on the road. Remind children to avoid sleigh riding on roadways.
· Never attempt to pull/drag anyone behind a car. Olympic style snowboarding and skiing is for the slopes, not behind a car where it is extremely dangerous.
· Once roads are passable, plan your route ahead of time to avoid any known tricky spots, hills and bridges when possible.