It was 1902 and upstarts like Henry Ford and Eli Olds had it in their minds that the country needed motorized carriages. (Conventional wisdom said they were dad-burned fools -- 17 million horses in the U.S. that year and only 23,000 operating cars…)
But with 50 auto clubs already formed, it was clear Henry and Eli were onto something. On March 4, 1902, nine of those clubs joined to form the American Automobile Association. The rest is our history.
In the beginning, roads were better suited to those 17 million horses than they were to cars. By 1916, AAA's fight for better roads led to the passage of the first-ever federal dollars for national highway construction.
As your need for safer, more comfortable travel grew, we fought for you. These days, our 80+ clubs are back where we started -- keeping members safe. Car breakdowns haven't changed in the last hundred years -- they're still a hassle. In 1915, AAA was the first to introduce a service for stranded motorists. Today, we assist members over 30 million times yearly using nearly 13,000 contract facilities.
Using new technologies, we're serving you even better. AAA Members in the U.S. and Canada can request road service with a single toll-free call to 1-800-AAA-HELP. Our call-service staff can even help answer questions about travel, Approved Auto Repair facilities, and many other AAA benefits and services.
Five years after we started, AAA established a bureau of touring information to supply members with information on roads, hotels, service facilities and motor vehicles. If only they could see us now.
We're constantly adding new services and publications. Travelers depend on AAA for TripTiks, TourBooks and thousands of other publications. We're also there for you with trip insurance, auto insurance, home insurance and even more.
We started meeting your international travel needs as early as 1927, when we opened our foreign travel department. In fact, we're one of the largest travel organizations in the world. From our international TourBooks to our International Driving Permit.
Traffic Safety Endeavors
The rapidly increasing number of cars on the road brought about a similar increase in motor-vehicle accidents. Preventing accidents is a continuing concern for AAA clubs.
In 1920, we established a nationwide School Safety Patrol program that teaches children how to protect their classmates from traffic dangers. Only ten years later, AAA pioneered driver education in high schools.
We've also spent the last 40-plus years working to reduce the problem of drinking and driving. Our nationwide alcohol education programs address safety issues associated with alcohol abuse. Adults or kids, we've got a program.
The time when a couple of coins could buy a gallon of gas is over. As a result, AAA is very active in matters of energy.
During the oil embargo of the 1970s, we initiated weekly Fuel Gauge Reports -- canvassing stations across the country to advise motorists on gasoline availability, prices and hours of operation. Currently, AAA provides a nationwide survey of gasoline prices, with nearly daily updates.
We've also played a leading role in the fight to reject any increase in the federal excise tax on gasoline to offset the federal budget deficit.
We'll continue to be your advocate on travel and motoring issues. We'll continue to look for ways to enhance the quality of the products and services we offer. Expect the next hundred years to be even better.