According to the Alberta Motor Association (AMA) between Tuesday, January 9, and the end of the day on Thursday, January 11, they received more than 10,000 requests for roadside assistance across the province.

"That number continues to climb given the extreme cold. In parts of Alberta, call volume has been as high as nine times the norm for this time of year, with dead batteries being the biggest culprit," The AMA stated.

On Friday morning, those needing towing or winching in Airdrie would have to wait upwards of 10 hours, while a battery boost, lockout, flat tire, or fuel delivery was a six-hour wait. In Calgary, towing or winching, battery boost, lockout, flat tire, or fuel delivery wait times are upwards of 32 hours. 

AMA advises motorists that cars should be plugged in when the temperatures fall below -15.

"Plugging in your vehicle three to four hours before driving can often be the difference between an engine that starts and an engine that doesn’t," said Mark Pasternak, Chief Instructor for AMA Driver Education. "If you don’t have that option, ensure you have a newer battery—about three years old or less—and consider using synthetic oil if you can.”

In extreme cold, The AMA said it receives requests for Roadside Assistance roughly every 40 seconds, as well as calls about dead batteries, which can spike by six times the usual number. Tips for vehicle maintenance amid the coming arctic temperatures include:

  • For most vehicles, plugging in at -15 or colder is ideal—three to four hours should do it. Older vehicles, or those with maintenance issues, may need to be plugged in at a warmer temperature.
  • Winter tires will give you much better traction on snow and ice, helping you stop sooner and maintain more control.
  • Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Most tires lose one pound per square inch for every 5°C drop in temperature.
  • Consider switching to synthetic oil, which will reduce the wear and tear on your engine and help it turn over in frigid temperatures.
  • Ensure your gas tank is at least half full and consider using gas-line antifreeze if your vehicle frequently moves from warm to cold environments (e.g. a heated garage to an outdoor parking lot).
  • Keep your vehicle windows and roof clear of snow and ice.

Driving in extreme cold also means being well-prepared including:

  • 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.
  • Always carry an emergency roadside kit. This should include things like a blanket, warm clothing, caution triangles, a flashlight, gloves, and a folding shovel.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips during extreme weather.
  • When you see a tow truck assisting a stranded driver, slow to 60 km/h (or lower if the posted speed limit is lower) and move over a lane, if possible. 

Airdrie remains under an extreme cold warning, with schools announcing closures across the region

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