When it takes you an hour and a half to complete a 25-minute trip to work, you find yourself wondering, "Why were so may stalled cars blocking traffic today? Once they got started, why couldn't they finshed the journey?"

I tried to get some answers from the AAA, but their switchboard was swamped all day. I could never get through. The police and two private crane operators gave me the background for these comments:

Cold weather diminishes the strength of storage battery. It makes automobile belts brittle and affects the functioning of radiators, pumps, alternators and other vital parts.

On a cold day, a motorist puts a severe strain on his battery in starting his motor. Then he turns on his heater and defroster, perhaps his rear defroster, and radio, and lights, and windshield wiper. And off he goes. He may not have enough antifreeze. His radiator may not be functioning properly. The belts that operate his fan and/or alternator may be ready to snap at any moment. He may even be about to run out of gass. Is it any wonder that some percentage of the cars that start out in seeemingly good order and destined to conk out before they reach their destination?

Even if you check every item I have mentioneoned here, there is the possibility that something else will go wrong. The best advice the crane operators could give me was: "Keep your car in good repair in all kind of weather - and don't do stupid things like run out of gas or let your radiator freeze up. You'd be surprised how many people do." I didn't tell them I had gambled of a frayed air conditioner belt because I didn't consider it important in this kind of weather. But when it snapped, it knocked my new fan belt off its tracks - and in minutes I was one of the casualties at the side of the road.