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Timeline

1902
March 4, in Chicago, nine auto clubs meet to form the American Automobile Association. Those clubs and their founding dates are: Chicago Automobile Club, 1900; Automobile Club of America, 1899; 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. Membership totaled approximately 1,500.


Resolution adopted on Dec. 9, favoring the Brownlow-Latimer Bill which calls for the appropriation of federal funds for the improvement of national highways.

First headquarters office was one shared with Automobile Club of America, 753 Fifth Ave., New York, NY.

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U.S. auto registrations total 23,000.

1903
Supports the Good Roads Bill, federal legislation establishing the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads (now the Department of Transportation). It wasn’t until 13 years later that President Woodrow Wilson would sign the AAA-sponsored Federal Aid Highway Act, including portions of what was formerly the Good Roads Bill, that required the federal government to appropriate funds for building and improving roads.

1904
Vanderbilt Cup Race is the first race held under the auspices of AAA Racing Board. In 1955, AAA abolished its Contest Board and disengaged from automobile racing.

1905
Publishes its first map, a street map of Staten Island, NY, hand drawn in ink on linen.

Conducts first contest for the Charles Glidden Touring Trophy from New York City to Bretton Woods, NH, and back. These tours encouraged manufacturers to produce less troublesome vehicles. The Glidden Tour continued as an annual event sponsored by AAA through 1913, and demonstrated the reliability of the automobile as basic transportation through long-distance competition. After WWII, the Glidden Tour was reintroduced and continues to be cosponsored annually by AAA and local antique car clubs throughout the U.S.

Enters into first reciprocal agreement with a foreign auto club, the Touring Club of France. AAA’s agreements with foreign auto clubs continue to provide AAA members with some benefits while traveling abroad. Foreign travelers to the U.S. also receive some benefits of their country’s auto club membership from AAA.

1906
Adopts its first official emblem — three capital A’s inside interlocking wheels.

Enters into a contract with Blue Book Publishing Co., publishers of the official Automobile Blue Books.
1907

Authors a Uniform State Motor Vehicle Bill which provides for the registration, identification and regulation of motor vehicles driven on public roads and highways.

1908
Cosponsors the first National Good Roads Convention, the start of AAA’s Good Roads Movement which plays an important part in the growth of the nation’s highway system. Other sponsors include National Grange and American Road Makers Association.

Joins with the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers. NAAM bails AAA out of financial difficulties.

1909
Membership totals approximately 10,000.

Creates American Motorist, a monthly magazine featuring travel articles, maps, road reports, hotel and garage listings, state motoring laws and club news.

Sets up European Touring Bureau in Paris to meet the needs of members traveling in Europe.

1910
At a meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., Feb. 15-17, AAA lobbies for passage of the Federal Registration Bill which would eliminate state barriers to interstate travel.

Begins selling American Express travelers checks. undefined undefined undefined undefined undefinedundefined

1911
Publishes its first European map and Trail to Sunset, a booklet of strip maps detailing a AAA Pathfinder’s route from New York to Jacksonville. Strip maps are combined to make what is now known as the famous AAA TripTiks(r).

Contest Board supervises the first Indianapolis 500 race on Memorial Day. undefined undefined undefined undefined undefinedundefined

1912
Present-day oval shape makes its debut in the AAA logo. The AAA logo has changed several times over the years, most recently in 1997, but since 1912 the popular oval has always been incorporated into the logo.

Makes its first foray into the insurance industry when the Automobile Club of Southern California establishes an auto insurance underwriting organization.

Publishes its first transcontinental map in sheet map form. It is the first map AAA copyrighted, and it sold for 25 cents. AAA also published a series of guidebooks for planning trips from the north to the south and sold them for $1 each: Lakes to Gulf, Dixie Trails and Seminole Trails. undefined undefined undefined undefined undefinedundefined

1913
AAA national office moves from New York City to Washington, D.C.

1914
Successfully opposes legislation to levy a registration fee, wheel tax and excise tax on automobiles.

Auto Club of Southern California begins transcontinental highway signing project which erected 4,000 road signs between Los Angeles and Kansas City to designate the National Old Trails route.

AAA and the American Highway Association create the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO). undefined undefined undefined undefined undefinedundefined

1915
Signature service, Emergency Road Service (ERS), is first provided by the Automobile Club of St. Louis. In its earliest forms, service included fixing tires, engines or small problems rather than towing. The first providers of this service were five men on motorcycles, called the First Aid Corp, who would drive the streets of St. Louis on Sundays looking for stranded motorists. They assisted motorists in getting back on the road whether or not they were auto club members.

1916
Congress establishes the National Park Service and through AAA efforts Yellowstone National Park opens to automobile traffic for the first time. Other national parks opened to automobiles in 1913 through the efforts of Automobile Club of Southern California. Today, AAA continues to work with public officials to identify ways to better manage access to the national parks so that all visitors can enjoy and appreciate their unique natural beauty.

1917
Publishes first hotel directory in a single publication. Previous directories had been published in American Motorist.

Issues first pedestrian resolution. It required pedestrians to abide by signals of traffic officer and cross only in designated places. Jaywalking would be considered prima facie evidence of carelessness. undefined undefined undefined undefined undefinedundefined

1918
Successfully opposes a 2-cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax.

Calls on the War Industries Board to put road materials and machinery on priority lists. Due to lack of official recognition, highway construction and maintenance were becoming increasingly difficult and AAA wanted to stress that highways are an essential part of transportation in time of war as well as in time of peace. In addition, AAA was instrumental in securing Congressional action to provide surplus war materials to states for building roads and asks car owners to do their own driving to free up skilled drivers and auto mechanics for the war effort. undefined undefined undefined undefined undefinedundefined

1919
Supports and Congress passes the Dyer Anti-theft Act making the transportation of stolen vehicles across state lines a federal offense.

Begins Roadside Protection Program designed to protect highways and the safety and comfort of travel by planting trees, removing objectionable signs, clearing of vision on curves and crossings, and establishing sanitary conditions.

Becomes a member of Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT), an international organization of auto clubs worldwide. AAA’s National Office continues to work closely with this and other international organizations on reciprocal programs, business practices exchange, international public policy, and organization of motoring club global information. undefined undefined undefined undefined undefinedundefined

1920
Publishes first annual Highways Greenbook, a report on road building in the U.S.; and first AAA Campground Directory. Today, AAA’s CampBook(r) guides include 11 editions covering all of North America.

AAA School Safety Patrol launches in Illinois by the Chicago Motor Club. The bright orange belts and silver badges have been emblems of AAA’s concern for children, pedestrians and traffic safety for more than 80 years.

1921
Supports passage of the Federal Highway Act which provides for an interstate road system. The Act was signed by President Harding on November 9.

Works to defeat a proposed $10 federal tax on cars and trucks.

1922
Opposes motor vehicle taxes levied during World War I including a gasoline tax and an excise tax on automobiles, trucks, and automotive equipment. After six years of persistent opposition these taxes were repealed in 1928.

Works to defeat a proposed federal registration fee of $2 per car, as well as a federal horsepower tax of $10 to $15 per vehicle.

Begins the National Road Reporting service within the National Touring Bureau. Clubs are sent bimonthly reports on changes in road conditions such as detours, construction work, speed traps, floods and impassable points. undefined undefined undefined undefined undefinedundefined

1923
Membership totals nearly 170,000.

Makes charges of manipulation of price in opposition to rising gasoline prices.

Establishes testing stations for headlights.

Sponsors regular Wednesday night broadcasts on WRC in Washington, D.C., on matters of interest to motorists.

Launches a campaign against the unscrupulous practices of speed traps, roadside courts and justices of the peace who operate under a fee system. Even today, AAA remains vigilant in exposing and opposing speed traps, and many communities have instituted ordinances or laws against unreasonably increasing town coffers through the use of speed traps.

Begins first official inspection of comparative routes between Washington and points in Florida. This inspection preceded Tour Book of the Southeastern States with Main Routes to Florida, published in 1925.

1924
Launches a campaign against diversion of auto tax revenues for non-highway purposes. Numerous campaigns have been conducted since then, but in 1998 Congress finally put up a firewall that keeps Highway Trust Fund revenues — such as federal gas taxes — from being used for purposes other than building and maintaining roads.

Participates in the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety, which drafts the first Uniform Motor Vehicle Code to help enforce street and highway safety.

Formally establishes the National Touring Bureau as a AAA department, the forerunner of AAA’s Travel Services department, which spearheaded AAA’s member publications program.

Merges with the National Motorist Association after a long rivalry over membership.

1925
Membership passes 500,000.

Supports Bureau of Public Roads program to establish a numbering system for U.S. routes, and advocates adoption of standardized signs and signals for highways.

Harry S. Truman begins working for Automobile Club of Kansas City as a salesman.

1926
Membership passes 600,000.

Releases the first series version of present AAA TourBook(r) guides. There were three editions covering the Northeastern, Southeastern and North Central states, including parts of Canada. AAA also inaugurated its Official Appointment program allowing lodgings to place the AAA logo on their buildings.

1927
Campaigns for safe railroad grade crossings and sponsors first voluntary auto inspection program under its Save a Life campaign.

First national listing of AAA Emergency Road Service stations in the AAA Hotel, Garage and Service Station Directory. Previous listings were in American Motorist.

1928
Membership totals more than 800,000.

Establishes a Foreign Division to handle steamship service and ship members’ cars abroad.

Establishes a Traffic Safety department and publishes a safety education curriculum for use by teachers. Distributes 250,000 safety posters nationwide. Drafts first model of a safety responsibility bill.

Creates a Child Safety Policy to “continue its aggressive safety campaign” which included support of AAA School Safety Patrols and the incorporation of safety instructions in public and private schools.

Urges Congress and the President to share information on highways with Pan American Union countries and to assist them in the development of their highway programs.

Automobile Club of Washington becomes the first AAA club to handle routing by air through the Western Airline Company.

1929
Membership passes 900,000. After the Great Depression hit, membership in AAA began falling and AAA lost more than 300,000 members between 1930 and 1935. Beginning in 1936 membership started growing again, passing the one million mark in 1940.

Develops all-inclusive travel services including complete tour packages.

To view more of the AAA Timeline: visit aaanewsroom.com