No Spike In Service Calls, Claims From Storm

BERLIN — This week’s latest bout with severe winter weather caused cancellations all over the region and left more than a few vehicles sliding off area roads, but statistically speaking it appears most local residents listened to the warnings and stayed off the roads.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs Specialist Christine Delise, the auto club did handle a relatively high number of calls for emergency roadside assistance during the latest winter storm on Monday, but not as many as one might think given the nasty road conditions. Delise said AAA Mid-Atlantic typically sees a higher number of calls for assistance after the storm has passed and motorists get back into their travel routines.

“As we tend to see on the day of a snowstorm, requests for emergency roadside assistance is not that high,” she said. “With schools and offices closed, motorists are home and tend to abide to the warnings of government officials to stay off the roads. AAA Mid-Atlantic tends to see volume increase the day after a severe weather event as students head back to school and employees head back to work.”

The statistics seem to bear that out, according to Delise. On Monday, AAA Mid-Atlantic handled nearly 5,000 requests for emergency roadside assistance across the auto club’s territory, which includes Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Of those, 1,000 requests were handled in Maryland. Compared to the same Monday one year ago, AAA Mid-Atlantic handed nearly 6,400 requests for emergency roadside assistance with over 1,700 of the calls originating in Maryland.

However, by Tuesday morning when the sun came back out and the temperatures climbed somewhat, most of the major arteries were cleared, but many of the side streets and secondary roads were still covered. By comparison, after receiving 5,000 calls for emergency service throughout the region on Monday, AAA Mid-Atlantic had already handled 3,600 by noon on Tuesday including 800 in Maryland.

Despite a handful of weather-related accidents on Monday, phones at local auto insurance companies were not exactly ringing off the hook with new claims early in the week. Beth Gismondi of Gismondi Insurance Association agreed most local motorists listened to the advice of police and emergency services and stayed off the roads on Monday.

“We didn’t see a spike in claims yesterday and only one claim from icy roads in Delaware,” said Gismondi on Tuesday. “Most folks know that they need to stay home if their employers will allow and let the weather clear so the roads crews can get their job done.”

Gismondi said the generally rural nature of the area and the types of vehicles many locals drive contributed to the relatively low number of calls for claims.

“This area has an abundance of four-wheel drive vehicles so I generally don’t have very many wrecked auto claims during a storm,” she said.

Delise said one particular type of call for emergency roadside assistance had spiked to record numbers throughout the AAA Mid-Atlantic region during the unusually harsh winter.

“Looking at data over the past two months, AAA Mid-Atlantic saw record-breaking tire-related requests for assistance in January and February as the wild winter weather has created an abundance of pot holes,” she said. “The auto club’s volume for tire-related requests topped out at 67,621 territory-wide, making this January and February the first and third busiest ever in terms of tire-related requests, with the second busiest month coming in December 2010. Maryland handled nearly 16,000 tire-related requests for service during January and February.”