Roadside calls spike because of frigid temps. Here’s what drivers should know.

Roadside calls spike because of frigid temps. Here’s what drivers should know.

CHARLOTTE, NC (Cassie Cope/ The Charlotte Observer - Nearly a third of calls placed to roadside assistance provider AAA Carolinas on Monday were about dead batteries, the organization said Tuesday.

Emergency roadside service calls rose to more than 4,000 by Tuesday afternoon, up from a December average of 2,750 a day.

The website warned of a higher-than-normal call volume and reminded motorists if they are facing a life threatening emergency to call 911.

With cold weather lingering in Charlotte over the next several days, South Carolina and North Carolina drivers can take precautions to protect themselves while driving.

Drivers should never drive while tired or warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, according to AAA.

To preserve their battery, drivers should also turn off everything running in the car, including the radio and heater before turning the ignition switch off, AAA recommends.

If the battery does not turn on the engine at first, turn the ignition key and wait one minute before trying to crank again, to give battery chemicals time to energize.

Drivers should also keep gas tanks half full to avoid a gas line freeze and avoid using the parking break.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety also has safety tips for driving in snow and icy conditions urging motorists to:

  • Slow Down. Drivers are more likely to keep control of their vehicle at slower speeds. It’s particularly important to slow down at intersections, off-ramps, bridges, or shady spots, which could have black ice.
  • Leave more room between cars. The length should should be about three times longer than usual.
  • Brake gently. That will helpavoid skidding on icy roads.
  • Avoid cruise control.

If vehicles skid, the S.C. DPS advises drivers take their foot off the accelerator and counter steer. "If the rear of your vehicle is sliding left, steer left into the skid. If it's sliding right, steer right. Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go." Then, if drivers have standard brakes, they should pump the brakes gently. If they have anti-lock brakes, they should apply steady pressure to the brakes.

Stranded drivers should stay with their vehicle because it provides shelter and allows rescuers to locate you, according to AAA Carolinas.