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Sloppy weather crashes mean big business for body shops

WEST ALLIS -- You might dread the morning commute and snow makes it even worse.  But when crashes happen out on the roads, local repair shops spring to life.


\"We've been kind of waiting for this first snowfall of the year,\" Bill Zellner of West Allis Auto Body said.

Waiting and ready to go to work at local auto body shops.  Monday morning's wet and slippery roads led  to more than 30 crashes and 18 disabled vehicles on Milwaukee County freeways alone.  Waukesha County handled more than 650 calls between 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., including 80 crashes and 29 injury accidents.

\"You hope for accidents, because that's how i make a living,\" Zellner said.  \"But at the same token you don't want  people to get hurt or go to the hospital.\"

Winter crashes help revive Zellner's business on National Avenue from the slow spring and fall months.

\"It's a real up and down business where you can have, you know, 20 cars in the shop for a week and  then the next week could be two cars,\" Zellner said.

Zellner tends to see fairly minor front and rear end damage after snow like we had Monday.  He had three or  four calls from people looking for estimates.

\"If it snows during rush hour traffic, we seem to get a little more busy,\" Bryan Harding with Leonard Auto Body in Wauwatosa said.

Harding took around ten calls for damaged cars Monday morning.  But that doesn't mean instant money for him.

\"It depends on what kind of accident it is,\" Harding said.  \"If it's a drivable vehicle, it could take a few days by  the time they make the insurance claim.  If it's a non-driver they'll tow them in right away.  I'm getting a couple towed in today.\"

Harding says his shop can repair most average damage in two or three days, but the bigger collisions  can take you off the road for more than a week.

\"Once the first snowfall comes, second snowfall comes, we're swamped,\" Zellner said.

If you're looking to avoid ending up in their shops, both Zellner and Harding emphasized getting quality tires.  They say a lot of the damage they see could have been prevented if the driver had better wheels.

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