Auto breakdowns have always been a source of frustration to car owners. In 1915, AAA was the first to introduce a service for stranded motorists. This has become one of the most valued features of a AAA membership, having been needed by members 29.9 million times in 1998. AAA’s emergency road service is coordinated through a network of nearly 13,000 contract facilities.
Traveling U.S. and Canadian members can receive emergency road service by making just one toll-free phone call to 1-800-AAA-HELP. This is AAA’s Member Services Call Center, where counselors handle emergency road service calls, as well as respond to inquiries about travel-related subjects and approved auto repair facilities.
AAA annually publishes a manual on correct towing procedures and AAA New Car & Truck Buying Guide.
To ensure members receive reliable and quality workmanship in auto repairs, AAA developed its Approved Auto Repair program, which identifies automotive repair facilities that have met AAA’s stringent criteria in customer satisfaction, equipment requirements and competency in performing automotive repairs.
Just five years after its founding, AAA established a bureau of touring information to supply members with all available data on roads, hotels, service facilities and motor vehicle laws.
Because early maps were prepared principally for bicyclists, AAA soon began producing its own auto-oriented maps and road logs and, eventually, a series of TourBook guides and camping directories.
AAA clubs also began inspection and recommendation of hotels, motels and restaurants. They became linked in a teletype network through which up-to-the-minute information on highway conditions could be exchanged.
Many AAA clubs instituted bail bond services, personal accident and car insurance, and automobile financing services.
To keep pace with the phenomenal growth in travel abroad, a foreign travel department was established in 1927 to handle steamship tickets and shipment of members’ cars.
Gradually AAA initiated more and more services and is now one of the largest travel organizations in the world, offering complete domestic and foreign travel services, including issuing International Driving Permits.
The rapidly increasing number of cars on the road brought about a similar increase in motor vehicle accidents. Prevention of traffic accidents became an early concern of AAA clubs.
In 1920, the AAA-sponsored School Safety Patrol program — children protecting classmates from traffic dangers — was established and expanded nationwide. AAA introduced traffic safety education into elementary and junior high schools. AAA also pioneered driver education in high schools. AAA’s “Responsible Driving” textbook, first published in the 1930s as “Sportsmanlike Driving,” has become the most widely used book in its field.
AAA has been actively involved for nearly 40 years in reducing the drinking-driver problem. AAA’s alcohol education programs are used by thousands of communities to address the traffic safety issues associated with alcohol abuse. AAA has programs appropriate for elementary school students through senior adults.
AAA’s involvement in energy matters is far-reaching. During the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, AAA initiated weekly Fuel Gauge Reports — a canvassing of stations across the nation to advise motorists on gasoline availability, prices and hours of operation. AAA currently offers nationwide daily gas prices through the newsroom.
AAA has played a leading role in the fight to reject any increase in the federal excise tax on gasoline to offset the federal budget deficit.