AAA Celebrates Milestone 120th Anniversary

by Gwen Newell

A pioneer in transportation a century ago, an advocate for safe travel and mobility today – it’s no secret that AAA’s name holds weight in the world of travel and safety. And this month, the organization celebrates 120 years of serving their members, helping travelers see the world and driving change for traffic safety.

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart the path for better roads in America, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations, providing roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of more than 62 million members.

Throughout AAA’s storied history, the organization has been instrumental in advocating for safe mobility for drivers and travelers alike, as well as being instrumental in pushing for legislation and training to improve roadway safety for everyone – whether pedestrians, cyclists or first responders. This includes advocating for the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1956, fighting for Move Over laws in all 50 states, developing driver education programs for all ages and the AAA School Safety Patrol program, speaking out on impaired and distracted driving and demanding stronger seatbelt legislation across the country. Much of this work is supported by proprietary research conducted by AAA automotive experts and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety on these same issues.

Additionally, as one of the largest full-service travel agencies in North America, AAA recognized early on the importance of providing the public with trusted travel information. To serve this need, AAA created a suite of resources that are still synonymous with travel today, including the TripTik, the AAA Diamond designation and TourBook® travel guides. AAA also developed a network of expert travel advisors who for decades have been instrumental in making dream vacations a reality for members across the country.

As AAA embarks on its 120th year, it stands among a small number of industry pioneers still in existence. Longevity of organizations has eroded over the years, impacted by economic depressions and recessions, mergers and technological disruptions. In 2020, the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company was just over 21 years. The first 120 years are only the beginning for AAA!

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