AAA call soar

Cars travel on Route 29 in Ellicott City, MD on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. (Jen Rynda / Patuxent Homestead / January 21, 2014)

More people called AAA Mid-Atlantic for emergency roadside assistance in January than in any previous month on record, the organization said Monday.

About a quarter of the calls were in Maryland.

Through snow storms and severe cold snaps that affected much of the region, a total of 222,667 customers called for assistance. AAA Mid-Atlantic covers Maryland, Virginia, Washington, Delaware, New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania.

The previous record was in December 2010, when nearly 16,000 fewer drivers called for help, the organization said.

Highways officials in Maryland have said the extreme winter weather in January caused potholes and other problems as rain and snow froze and then thawed in cracks in highway surfaces.

A total of 55,537 of the January calls were made from Maryland, the most of any state other than New Jersey, where 59,111 calls originated.

There were 53,054 calls from the five-county area near Philadelphia; 39,219 from Virginia; 8,048 from Delaware and 7,698 from Washington.

About 37 percent were for tows; 33 percent were for battery issues; and 16 percent were for tire problems, AAA said.

AAA officials warned February could present more problems for drivers.

"With February picking up where January left off, drivers should make sure their vehicles are prepared with proper levels of antifreeze, a strong battery, and plenty of windshield washer fluid," said Ragina Cooper-Averella, a AAA spokeswoman, in a statement. "Also keep an emergency kit in the trunk should you run into any problems during your commute. Careful preparation is the key to weathering the wrath of Old Man Winter."

krector@baltsun.com

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