AAA bombarded with dead battery assistance calls during cold snap

Many Minnesotans are experiencing car troubles this week, leading to a huge demand for AAA Minneapolis.

In fact, AAA has responded to so many calls, the first obstacle for stranded drivers has been getting through to the call center.

No matter how old or new your car may be, jumper cables proved to be a life-saver countless times Wednesday.

One driver, ironically, had to jump his vehicle right in the parking lot of AAA headquarters, where calls for roadside assistance are on pace to be six times that of a normal day, with more than 650 calls coming from people before noon.

The vast majority of assistance calls were cars with dead batteries.

“Usually, it’s a couple fall off here, a couple here, but this time’s it’s boom, they are all right here,” said Meredith Terpstra, of AAA Minneapolis. “So a lot of people are saying their batteries are not as good as they thought they were. It’s a little later in the season and it’s all happening at once.”

Wait times for tow maintenance trucks varied by hours, depending on if the driver had a warm place to wait or not.

In Minneapolis, plows went around vehicles still parked on the street on day three of the snow emergency.

There were no tickets issued or cars towed after roughly 200 calls to the city before 9 a.m.

“It is unusual, but these are unusual circumstances,” said Robin Hutcheson, the Minneapolis Director of Public Works. “It will start to warm if people can move at that point. That will help us clean up.”

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Public Works is also challenged with keeping the city’s own fleet of 1,700 vehicles running.

Maintenance teams are working with nearly 30 percent less staff because of people who prearranged to take the frigid day off, or who also couldn’t get their own personal cars to start.

Those who are working are going call to call trying to stay warm and helping with everything from dead batteries, low tires and to air brakes freezing up.

“Normally, it’s one guy in a truck going here and there,” said Al Thunberg, the Minneapolis Director of Fleet Services. “Today, it’s two in a truck all day long.”

As assistance crews fight to keep up, also keep in mind there was a huge reduction in the amount of traffic out on the roads today.

Some crews FOX 9 talked to can’t imagine how busy they would be if the normal number of drivers were trying to get to school and work.