CINCINNATI — Before heading out on the road for a summer trip, it’s a good idea to make sure the car is just as prepared for the journey as the passengers. the vehicle is up for the journey.
According to AAA and other industry sources there may be a delay in assistance for car breakdowns because there are fewer tow trucks on the road than before the pandemic.
Wait times, even on sunny days with no major traffic issues, have been reported longer than normal by some members of the American Automobile Association.
“They told me it’d be 14 hours to give me a tow,” said Tony Kursim, a AAA Plus member in Ohio who called for help in April after blowing a tire in nearby Covington, Ky. Kursim got connected to a dispatcher in New Jersey.
“I called them at 5 p.m., and they said they couldn’t respond until 7 a.m. the next morning, and that wasn’t going to work,” he said.
Kursim called a mechanic friend who loaned him a wheel so he could get home.
AAA told Kursim he could call another tow company and the auto club would reimburse him, but finding a tow can be tough.
Some small towing companies went out of business during the pandemic, and it’s hard for every company to find enough drivers, even AAA, where they’re seeing an increased demand for tows.
“It’s a struggle to find help,” said Michael Bachman, the fleet supervisor for AAA’s Cincinnati office. “You don’t have the candidates you used to have. So instead of people knocking on your door to come work, like anywhere you can go anywhere like restaurants, you’re going to find that same struggle.”
AAA Spokesperson Kara Hitchens said that despite reports of long wait times, AAA’s average response time is still satisfactory for most customers.
“We commit ourselves to getting to our members as quickly as possible, and the average response time is about 30 minutes,” Hitchens said.
That’s how long it took for AAA Cincinnati service driver Jody Allen to reach a member in Bellevue, Ky. during a recent call.
“Volume has picked up, and that means more overtime, but that’s how it be,” said Allen. "I enjoy it. It doesn’t bother me.”
Allen and his fleet supervisor have some tips to make sure drivers get to their destinations safely.
“When you’re traveling, the most important thing to remember (is) always make sure your car’s in good shape,” Bachman said. “Make sure you have good tires. Have your battery and checked, make sure your tire’s air pressure is good.”
Allen added to the checklist: "Watch out for potholes. Watch out for stuff that’s in the street and call us if you need us.”