Century of Service Commemorates State's Centennial

As Arizona celebrates its centennial, AAA pauses to reflect on the club’s own 100-year history, which includes 85 years of service in Arizona.

“Not many companies can boast a history as long as their state’s legacy,” said Mike Tully, president and CEO of AAA Arizona. “As Arizona embarks on a new century, AAA remains committed to ensuring the safety, security and peace of mind of our members and motorists in our state.”

In honor of Arizona’s triple digit birthday, AAA would like to offer the following timeline, which illustrates the auto club’s roots and growth over the last century:

  • 1902. After the first horseless carriages appeared on American roads, auto clubs formed. Nine clubs met to form the American Automobile Association with 1,500 members. At this time, there were 23,000 cars and 17 million horses on the road.

  • 1903. Lobbied for the Good Roads Bill, federal legislation establishing what is now the Department of Transportation.

  • 1912. Entered the insurance industry when the Automobile Club of Southern California established an auto insurance underwriting organization.

  • 1915. Emergency road service was born. In its earliest form, service was limited to fixing tires, engines or small problems, rather than towing.

  • 1927. AAA Arizona received accreditation, opening its first branch office in downtown Phoenix (located at Hotel Jefferson) with 239 members.

  • 1930. The first Digest of Motor Laws, which describes categories of driving laws and the differences in those laws from state to state, was published.

  • 1938. Began to operate travel offices, which evolved into full-service travel agencies. Today, AAA is the largest leisure travel agency in the U.S.

  • 1950. Membership surpassed 3 million. Published the first Your Driving Costs study. Driving 10,000 miles cost 9 cents a mile; gas sold for 27 cents per gallon.

  • 1954. Urged insurance companies to give discounts to young drivers who completed driver education courses.

  • 1963. Adopted rating system for TourBook® guides, which became the Diamond Rating System in 1976.

  • 1966. National membership reached 10 million. Helped draft the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, which established safety standards for vehicles.

  • 1973. Initiated the now weekly Fuel Gauge Report during the Arab oil embargo, advising motorists on gasoline availability, prices and service station hours.

  • 1978. Joined VISA to develop a new credit card program for members. AAA’s is the oldest affinity credit card program in the country.

  • 1993. Launched Show Your Card & Save®, offering exclusive member savings at seven retail locations. Now known as Member Discounts, the program helps members save more than $100 annually with more than 50 national discount partners, and more than 300 discount partners in Arizona.

  • 2000. Received a public service award from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in appreciation of leadership in child passenger safety and graduated driver licensing (GDL) efforts.

  • 2007. National membership reached 50 million. Successfully lobbied for the Teenage Drivers Safety Act, strengthening Arizona’s GDL law.

  • 2009. Launched a campaign to ban texting while driving in all 50 states by 2013. Launched the first of five mobile applications.

  • 2010. Successfully lobbied for an enhanced Move Over law in Arizona, expanding the state’s law to include tow truck drivers and stranded motorists.

  • 2012. Total membership grows to 52 million, of which 825,000 are Arizonans.

“AAA is a name people trust,” said Tully. “This reputation stems from more than a century of service, and is one in which we hope to build upon in the century ahead.”

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on the streets and highways of the state. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.