Help! AAA logged record number of winter calls for assistance

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No wonder you waited so long when you called for a jump on that bitter January morning. AAA Minneapolis explains that the harshest winter in decades created their busiest cold season in 30 years.

The Star Tribune reports that numbers released by the club serving Hennepin County and nearby suburbs set a new record by answering more than 50,000 calls for help between December and February. That represents a 42 percent hike over the winter of 2012-13. And AAA Minnesota-Iowa set a single-day record for service calls on Jan. 7, when it received 3,000 calls.

The relentless, battery-deadening cold created endless problems with cars that wouldn't fire up. AAA reported that that battery-related difficulties were the top reason that motorists sought aid, leading to 36 percent of the calls for help. Jamie Christianson, a AAA Minneapolis spokeswoman, said that 30 percent of the calls were from motorists needing tows and 10 percent were for problems with flat tires and motorists needing extrications. One percent of the calls came from drivers who ran out of gas. (Remember all that time spent sitting in stalled traffic?)

In the midst of the winter, MPR and KARE jointly produced a story that looked at the businesses that saw an infusion of cold cash during the Polar vortices. It included tow companies, auto body shops, food delivery services and doggie day care centers.

Auto-related problems have plagued motorists across the state. The Northland's News Center in Duluth reported in January that vehicle crashes in the area had doubled compared to the same time period last year. The extreme cold that created countless patches of slick black ice was blamed for 52 rollovers that had happened by the third week in January.

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