AAA keeps busy with roadside assistance during dangerously cold weather

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — AAA workers have been out on calls all night for drivers whose cars are having a little trouble in the bitter cold.

AAA Northeast spokesperson David Raposa says the company has an excess of 50 trucks out on the roads, but with a high volume of calls, it is still not enough.

AAA roadside technicians have been slammed with calls due to the cold weather, saying the approximate wait time is four hours for service.

Mike Avila, lead roadside technician with AAA, says the most common cold weather call involves dead car batteries.

“Batteries are like people. They like 60 degree weather just like we do,” Avila said. “When they don’t get 60 degree weather, they fail.”

Just four hours into his shift Thursday night, Avila has already responded to around a dozen different calls. All of them involved suspected dead car batteries.

Patricia Weltin of East Providence was one of those calls, claiming her car wouldn’t start. She called around 2 p.m. and was not assisted until almost five hours later.

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“They said they were very busy and they had a lot calls today and I can imagine because it’s freezing out,” Weltin said.

Thankfully, Weltin was able to wait inside her home and keep warm. AAA representatives said the call volume is three times higher than usual because of the weather.

“On days like today, our jump packs take a beating,” Avila said. “So, what I do is I keep it charging when I go to a call so I don’t ever have to worry about it dying on me.”

Avila said he expects to be jump starting cars throughout the night and into next week. He says the life of a battery all depends on maintenance. But unfortunately for New Englanders, it can also depend on the weather.

Weltin said when she called AAA, the first thing they asked her was if she was safe and out of the cold.

According to Raposa, AAA is prioritizing the people who are stranded out in the cold.

“Dispatchers are constantly prioritizing these calls, meaning that if you are safe at home, they might prioritize someone who is on the side of the road,” he said. “We are constantly looking at those calls and seeing who is in most of need of assistance to get them to a place to safety,” Raposa said.