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AAA (pronounced "triple A"), formerly known as the American Automobile Association, is a federation of 51 independently operated motor clubs throughout North America. AAA is a not-for-profit member service organizationwith more than 51 million members. AAA provides services to its members such as travel, automotive, insurance, financial, and discounts. Its national headquarters are in Heathrow, Florida The American Automobile Association (the "AAA" or "Triple-A") was founded on March 4, 1902, in Chicago, Illinois when, in response to a lack of roads and highways suitable for automobiles nine motor clubs with a total of 1,500 members banded together to form the Triple-A. Those individual motor clubs were the Chicago Automobile Club, Automobile Club of America, Automobile Club of New Jersey, Long Island Automobile Club, Rhode Island Automobile Club, Philadelphia Automobile Club, Princeton University Automobile Club, Automobile Club of Utica, and Grand Rapids Automobile Club. The Automobile Club of Buffalo joined in 1903.
In 1904, the AAA merged with the American Motor League, the first American automobile organization.
The first AAA road maps were published in 1905, and AAA began printing hotel guides in 1917. Triple-A began its School Safety Patrol Program in 1920, the first of the association's driver safety programs, providing local schools with materials (including badges and ID cardsto train and organize students into a patrol force. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which conducts studies on motorist safety, was established as a separate entity in 1947.
AAA created an organization called the Racing Board, and later known as the Contest Board, in 1902 to officiate the Vanderbilt Cup international automobile race in Long Island, New York. The Racing Board sanctioned the Indianapolis 500 and awarded national racing championships in 1905, 1916, 1920–1941, and 1946–1955. After the 1955 Le Mans disaster, AAA decided that auto racing distracted from its primary goals, and the United States Automobile Club was formed to take over the race sanctioning/officiating. In 2005, AAA re-entered racing as a sponsor of ISC-owned tracks. In 2006, AAA's foray into racing expanded when it made a three-year commitment to sponsor Roush Racing's number 6 car on the NASCAR Nextel Circuit
In 1935, AAA published Sportsmanlike Driving, the first course outline for high school teachers. In 1936, AAA published the first driver education curriculum for use in high schools (also titled Sportsmanlike Driving, now known as Responsible Driving). AAA has updated its driver training courses throughout the years and many clubs currently offer their own driving schools, or work with other companies to provide AAA’s driving curriculum
Knowing that vehicles pose a hazard to pedestrians, in 1936 AAA began a pedestrian safety program with a grant from the Automotive Safety Foundation. AAA went on to commission and publish (1938) an extensive study of pedestrian safety for the purpose of reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries. AAA’s Pedestrian Protection Program began in 1937 and focuses national attention on pedestrian safety needs by recognizing cities, counties and states that have demonstrated successful pedestrian safety programs.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety was established as a separate entity in 1947, and continues to conduct research related to traffic and pedestrian safety.
AAA’s history spans more than 100 years and includes many examples of serving the U.S. government in times of war. During the 1940s, AAA offered its services to the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense. in anticipation of becoming involved in World War II. AAA President Thomas P. Henry was appointed consultant in the transportation unit of the Defense Council, and AAA pledged resources, including highway information, to national defense planning efforts as it had during World War I.
Reductions in manufacturing because of the war increased the need for conservation in automobiles and their related products. AAA's efforts at conservation included supporting the manufacture of synthetic rubber in anticipation of a war-related tire/rubber shortage, urging motorists to reduce their driving speed to conserve fuel (1942); and backing a scrap rubber campaign (1942). In 1944, AAA’s Keep 'em Rolling campaign sponsored a cross-country tour featuring cars equipped with synthetic tires. The tour demonstrated the reliability of tires made with synthetic rubber. In doing its part to assist in the war effort, AAA placed its mapping facilities at the disposal of the Army department; conducted motor pool driver education (1943); secured an order from the War Production Board that stopped the sale of certain anti-freeze solutions harmful to motors (1943); launched a campaign to alleviate a growing shortage of auto mechanics (1943); monitored tire and gasoline rationing (1943); and established, in cooperation with the Red Cross and military hospitals, a driver training program for veterans with artificial limbs (1944). AAA also assisted in the development of a manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and their operation during wartime (1942).
The AAA has reciprocal arrangements with a range of international affiliates. In general, members of affiliates are offered the same benefits as members of the AAA while traveling in the United States, while AAA members are offered equivalent benefits while traveling in the territory of the affiliate.
International affiliates include: