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'It's been dangerous' | Tow truck drivers urge drivers stay home, be cautious

Emergency crews responded to hundreds of crashes on Thursday and Friday. Some tow truck drivers say people on the road are not taking icy conditions seriously.

AUSTIN, Texas — Since Thursday, Austin Fire Department personnel responded to more than 300 collisions

Tow truck drivers have responded to all those and more as people on the roads spin out and slide on ice, especially on overpasses, bridges and flyovers. More than two dozen cars piled up on Thursday morning in North Austin because of icy conditions.

"I haven't seen it that bad in such a confined space. It was a mess," Mike Felan, a tow truck driver with Quick Tow in Austin, said. "Definitely not normal. It's been crazy. It's been hectic. It's been dangerous really, you know, for everybody."

Felan said Friday morning tow truck drivers were told to mark vehicles for pickup, but retrieve them later. According to the Travis County Sheriff's Office, there was no formal directive to do that, but it could be left up to the deputies on duty to mark vehicles so other first responders know it's not a new incident.

RELATED: Winter weather leaving thousands without power in Austin area

"We had, you know, a lot of calls for vehicles just going off the road hitting ice unexpectedly," Dane Jaskinia, Felan's coworker at Quick Tow, said. "There's a lot of ice on the roads. Folks are driving and just driving to work maybe a little bit too fast."

Both Jaskinia and Felan say drivers are not taking the potential for ice on roadways seriously enough.

"The black ice, the ice that you cannot see that's over these roads that are really ... wrecking people," Jaskinia said.

"The weather, ice down here, we're not used to that," Felan said. "Drivers aren't used to it ... It might look like it's ideal, but it's not."

RELATED: PHOTOS: Winter weather coats Central Texas in ice

AAA Texas said calls for service jumped up by nearly 10% between Thursday and Friday.

"Most of those have been people who've been stuck and need to tow, or members who have dead batteries, also tire issues," Daniel Armbruster, a AAA Texas spokesperson, said.

All three people expect the number of calls and the severity of incidents to get worse as Texas barrels toward more snowfall.

"We're anticipating that there will be roadside emergencies related to the winter weather and roadside rescues for our members," Armbruster said.

"Slow down. There's nothing worth getting yourself into an accident, possibly, you know, hurting yourself or hurting someone else just to get to where you're going," Felan said.

"I hope to see folks staying at home, but if you must get out, be careful, avoid overpasses, avoid bridges, avoid any of that if you can," Jaskinia said. "When you have the lanes shut down and ice, it's difficult to get around."


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