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Published February 18 2013

Body shop business picks up as metro accident reports see double-digit increases

FARGO – The recent spell of severe winter weather has crash reports piling up and auto body shops humming again after a long lull.

“We had a quiet December and even into January, and then once the snow started hitting, it’s just a complete turnaround,” said Walter Dahl, owner of Dahl’s Certified Auto Body Inc. in Moorhead.

From Dec. 1 through Feb. 15, Moorhead police saw a 36 percent increase in accident reports, from 220 to 343, compared with the same period last winter, Lt. Tory Jacobson said.

Crash reports submitted to the Fargo Police Department jumped 14 percent between Dec. 10 and Sunday compared with the same period last winter. When comparing only the past two weeks to the same period last year, crash reports increased from 173 to 324, or 87 percent, Lt. Joel Vettel said.

But last winter was unusually mild, Vettel noted. Because of new record management software installed in March 2011 for metro-area agencies, statistics weren’t available to compare this winter’s crash numbers to those from the harsher winters of 2009-11.

At Midwest Collision Center in Fargo, repairman Darrel Wheelright said business is “not near as good” as in 2009 or 2011, but it’s “better than last year, for sure.”

Monday’s blizzard didn’t punish Fargo-Moorhead with record-breaking snowfall like the blizzard of Feb. 10-11, but whiteout conditions and icy streets led to dozens of fender-benders that will keep body shops busy for a while.

“We haven’t had much for bad weather the last year, year and a half. Now we’re busy, real busy,” Dahl said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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