A Brief History of AAA

News & Safety A Brief History of AAA

Almost immediately after the first horseless carriages appeared on America's roads, motorists began organizing automobile clubs. In 1902, only 23,000 cars were in operation in this country compared with 17 million horses. Yet, motoring enthusiasts had formed approximately 50 small auto clubs across the country.

Nine of those clubs met in Chicago on March 4, 1902, to create a national motoring organization, and the American Automobile Association was formed with 1,500 members.

Those clubs and their founding dates were Automobile Club of America, 1899; Chicago Automobile Club, 1900; Automobile Club of New Jersey, 1900; Long Island Automobile Club, 1900; Rhode Island Automobile Club, 1900; Philadelphia Automobile Club, 1900; Princeton University Automobile Club, 1901; Automobile Club of Utica, 1901; Grand Rapids Automobile Club, 1902.

The first headquarters office was one shared with the Automobile Club of America, on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

One hundred years and more than 51 million members later, AAA's most basic premise remains the same: safe, efficient transportation is a fundamental underpinning of our society.


How It All Started


In 1902, there were only 23,000 cars on the roads in this country, compared to 17 million horses. Even with such a large disparity, motor enthusiast clubs began to form. Nine out of an approximate 50 clubs met in Chicago on March 4, 1902, with the intent to create a national motoring organization. The meeting resulted in the formation of the American Automobile Association with roughly 1,500 charter members, and the decision to base the first headquarters office on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

AAA: Through the Years

1902 – Nine motor clubs met in Chicago to form the American Automobile Association.

Today, AAA is a federation of more than 50 affiliated clubs with some 1,100 offices in the United States and Canada serving more than 51 million members.

1903 – AAA began its work campaigning on motorists' behalf for better and safer roadways by supporting federal legislation to establish the U.S. Department of Transportation.

1905 – The first AAA map was produced and depicted roads on Staten Island, N.Y.

Today, AAA annually distributes more than 90 million maps and 17 million TripTik® customized routings that include key travel information, such as road construction and mileage estimates.

1914 – AAA erected 4,000 road signs between Los Angeles and Kansas City to guide drivers and replace compasses and landmarks, such as fence posts and barns.

1915 – AAA's "Men on Motorcycles" provided the first emergency road service.

Today, AAA operates a network of 13,500 contract towing facilities that annually respond to more than 30 million roadside assistance calls.

1920 – The School Safety Patrol program, AAA's first such safety program, was pioneered in Chicago.

Today, the program sponsors more than 500,000 patrols in some 50,000 schools every year.

1941 – AAA established the "Keep 'em Rolling Campaign," a program designed to help motorists maintain their vehicles.

Today, certified technicians provide repair services and offer members maintenance inspections at more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across the country.

1945 – AAA used two-way radios for Emergency Road Service dispatches. Within five years, 185 trucks handled more than one million calls.

1948 – AAA Travel Agency Services offered the first escorted tours.

1956 – AAA played an important role in the passage of the 1956 Federal-aid Highway Act, creating the interstate highway system.

1993 – AAA launched the Show Your Card & Save® program.

AAA discounts, including those available via the organization's Show Your Card and Save® program saved AAA members more than $2.1 billion in 2009. Members that used the discounts had an average savings of $101 during the year. AAA members saved on everything from hotels and restaurants to home electronics and prescription drugs and much more.

1997 – AAA launched AAA.com, the official AAA Web site.

2007 – AAA became 50 million members strong in North America.

Roadside Assistance Truck