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John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171

WASHINGTON, D. C.  (Tuesday, December 15, 2020) –– Getting stuck or stranded in a car during a winter storm can prove life-threatening, even while you are waiting to be rescued. Last winter, AAA responded to more than 238,000 calls for emergency roadside service in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. This winter, emergency roadway rescues will pose greater risks and be more complex for those stuck in a car on the shoulder of the road and for the rescuers alike because of the coronavirus. With this in mind, and with the potential for an extreme weather event – “Winter Storm Gail” – across the Washington metro area this week, AAA is reminding motorists that now is the time to make sure your vehicle is winter road ready so you won’t find yourself stranded roadside, with limited options that allow for social distancing.

“The surging coronavirus pandemic has added a layer of complexity to all our interactions, including the interactions necessary when AAA provides emergency roadside service,” said John B. Townsend II, Public and Government Affairs Manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “At AAA it is always our intention to minimize risk and, this year, minimizing risk means giving additional consideration to car care to ensure your safety, the safety of all your passengers and the safety of the AAA roadside rescue team.”

Last winter, AAA responded to nearly 12,000 rescue calls in the District of Columbia, over 130,000 in Maryland and nearly 96,000 in Virginia. A total of 55% of calls in the District of Columbia required a tow, while over 40% of the calls in Maryland and Virginia did so. Calls in the District of Columbia for dead batteries were a low 2% of all calls to AAA last winter, but about 30% of the calls from drivers in Maryland and Virginia were for dead batteries. This winter that number could be even higher because so many vehicles have been sitting idle because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We know that winter and the extreme cold can really take a toll on vehicle batteries. AAA saw a sharp increase in battery calls in the spring, and the winter could well be worse,” James Moore, Manager, AAA Car Care Center, Fairfax. “For this reason, all AAA Car Care Centers, and most AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities are offering free winter check-ups for members and non-members alike to ensure vehicles and their passengers will be as safe as possible in the coming months.”

“Of course AAA is always available for emergency roadside rescue, but we’d rather provide service in advance in a comfortable, controlled environment that is safer for everyone involved,” said Bruce Jenkins, Manager, AAA Northern Virginia Roadside Assistance Fleet Depot. “With heavy snow and some icing expected in the far western areas of the region, and a watery or snowy mix closer in, roads could turn slippery and prove treacherous. In all likelihood, it will cause a spike in SOS calls to the AAA emergency roadside assistance switchboard. We are standing by, and standing watch, to rush to the rescue during winter storms.”

Motorists can identify reliable, high-quality repair shops with certified technicians by looking for the

AAA Approved Auto Repair sign. These facilities must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, tools, equipment, warranties and cleanliness. Nearby shops can be located at  In an effort to ‘help those who are helping us’ through these challenging times, AAA is offering special membership discounts to all first responders, teachers and the military. 

AAA Winter Car Care Tips

  • Battery: Batteries typically last 3-5 years. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather. At any time, AAA members can request a FREE, CONTACTLESS check of their battery through the AAA Mobile Battery Service and the AAA technician can replace it on-site, if necessary. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can also test and replace weak batteries.
  • Tires: A healthy tread is critical, especially when roads may be wet or slippery. Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
  • Engine: Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather.
  • Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. Some 40 percent of motorists fail to carry one.

This year, an emergency kit stored in your vehicle should also include a mask that you can have on hand, should you need to call for roadside help. Other items in the emergency roadside kit should include:

  • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger.
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats.
  • Small snow shovel.
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries.
  • Window washer solvent.
  • Ice scraper with brush.
  • Jumper cables.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Flare or bright triangle for visibility.
  • Blankets, extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves).
  • Drinking water.
  • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers.
  • Extra medications.

Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance. For more information on AAA Mobile, visit this link.



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Washington, D.C. Mailing Address:
1405 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and nearly 82,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit

TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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