Santa is not the only one who can’t afford a breakdown on Christmas morning. Every year the AA helps motorists whose cars threaten to ruin the day.
“Of course the roads are very busy in the run-up to Christmas but you would be surprised how many people are on the move on the day itself.” Says Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan. “Every year there are people getting the kids across to Granny, or making the trip to Mass, and suddenly they are stuck. It is quiet compared to a normal day of course but it is lovely for us; we are very proud to be there for people at Christmas.”
The AA Rescue team will be working 24/7 over the Christmas period and with the weather expected to continue cold and frosty it is likely to be a relatively busy Christmas day for AA Patrols. Most garages will be closed for a few days over Christmas so The AA is reminding motorists of the importance of carrying spare tyres, jump leads and other rescue equipment, if they’re not AA Members.
AA Patrol Alfie Coyne is one of the team who will be on duty this Christmas when most of us are snug at home:
“It’s easy to get a flat battery this time of year” He says. “Flat batteries and keys locked in the car are likely to see the most call-outs. You have the radio and heating on, and perhaps a device plugged into the car lighter. You leave everything on as you run in to drop off a present but that quick Christmas visit turns into a long one and before you know it, the battery dies. Thankfully we can easily jump start a car and we carry spare batteries if they need to be replaced.”
Winter is the busiest time of year for AA Patrols and any inclement weather can double the amount of call-outs they do. The harsh winter of 2010 was a particularly memorable one for Alfie. “We were so busy during the big snow, there were cars that wouldn’t start in the cold and so many cars stuck in ditches. Our main problem was driving between jobs. It’s lucky we’re in vans so that we could get around but we still had to take it easy, it was dangerous.”
A lot of Christmas call-outs will be to motorists who have accidentally locked their keys in the car. “Every Christmas, I help at least one person who has managed to lock their keys in the boot whilst taking out the Christmas presents” says Alfie. “Christmas Eve is a busy one for parents with children, so we tend to prioritise panicked parents who have managed to lock their keys and all the presents in the car. You’d be surprised how many people it happens to. The best part for me is after I’ve unlocked the car, they’re always so thankful.”
Alfie who has worked with The AA for almost 40 years says he likes being out on the road. “You get to meet new people and every day is different. There is nothing like the satisfaction you get from helping people when they’re really stuck.”
Winter-time sees all sorts of things looking for shelter from the bitter cold. Alfie learnt this first hand on a call-out to a home just a few days ago. The homeowners had installed electronic pest repellents to scare mice away with ultrasonic waves, only to discover that the little creatures had fled the house and nested in the engine of their car. “You get some really odd jobs at Christmas but this was certainly a first for me” laughs Alfie. “I carefully re-housed the mice in a nearby field and then checked over the engine to make sure the little mice hadn’t chewed on anything but thankfully it was fine.”
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