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Tow trucks scamble in deep freeze

<p>Tow truck operators might be making good money in this deep freeze, but they say they’re not having much fun since motorists could be waiting days for service.</p>

Drivers say people could wait on calls for days


Tow truck operators might be making good money in this deep freeze, but they say they’re not having much fun since motorists could be waiting days for service.



"We’re busy, but it’s not like we’re dancing in the streets," says Rita Bassani, an administrator with Cliff’s Towing in Edmonton.



Bassani says this week’s chill is the worst tow truck operators have seen in years and the -30C degree temperatures are causing their own trucks to break down as hydraulics tend to act up in the cold.



Temperatures in Edmonton yesterday morning hovered around the -35C mark, while The Edmonton International Airport recorded -45C.



Dispatchers are also getting flooded with thousands of calls a day and tow truck operators are working long hours just to play catch up because of the huge demand from stranded motorists, says Bassani.



Motorists who need their batteries boosted, or any other types of service, could wait 12 hours, or up to a few days for a tow truck, says the Alberta Motor Association.



"The calls just pour in and it doesn’t matter if you tell people that you’re not coming for two days, so they say that’s OK, we’ll wait," said Bassani.



"It’s incredibly crazy."



Randy Loyk, a technical services manager with the AMA, warns drivers to do more to avoid breakdowns by testing their block heaters and keeping gas tanks full in order to stop gas lines from freezing.



And to prepare for breakdowns, Loyk suggests packing blankets, warm clothing and a cellphone.



"We’re also suggesting to people to not do any highway driving until it warms up," said Loyk. "Stay off the highways."



Stranded motorists looking for a ride from a cabbie will also hear busy signals when calling several taxi companies listed in the phone book. Several cab companies could not be reached because their lines were busy.



Officials with Edmonton Transit, however, say more buses are running during the cold snap to keep routes on schedule. Express buses are also picking up passengers at non-express stops to keep people out of the cold.



Environment Canada says temperatures will get warmer by the weekend, but it will only reach -19C as a high on Saturday.




jeff.cummings@metronews.ca


 
 
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