The past week has resulted in the worst week for The Alberta Motor Association (AMA) in nearly 100 years due to the volume of calls as the province dealt with extreme weather conditions. Early last week until yesterday, the AMA received over 49,000 calls, resulting in wait times over 33 times the norm.

This resulted in wait times as long as 24 hours for services such as battery boosts and winching. The sheer number of calls saw all available operators on shift, and there was a need for temporary operators being called in from AMA partners. 

Even with additional operators on call and warming temperatures, the massive backlog of calls has AMA expecting sometime before things are back to normal for their emergency roadside workers. 

“For AMA, the only change warmer weather brings is fewer layers of clothing for our operators, who’ve been working 10, 12, 14-hour shifts—even when temperatures were below -40 degrees,” said Brandon Klassen, spokesman for AMA. 

Those living in areas with expected snowfall over the next few days may be waiting even longer for wait times to return to normal as roadside workers work through the backlog of requests. 

“We're grateful for everyone's patience and understanding. If you're one of the people still in need of assistance, please know we're doing everything we can to get you moving again," said Klassen 

While conditions may be improving, AMA offers these tips to stay protected on the road. 

-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. 

-Before 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 a 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.  

The cold conditions will continue over the next few days, with a low of -20 degrees and a chance of flurries.

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