As the number of automobiles grew through the early 1900s, so did the number of AAA Clubs across the nation – eventually numbering more than 100 regional clubs. As the 21st century approached, many clubs started to merge for strategic and geographic advantage. The Auto Club Group is one such organization, and now serves AAA Members in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Many of AAA’s notable milestones trace their roots to the leaders of the regional clubs that now comprise The Auto Club Group. For example, during the early days of the automobile, many roads were named, but most were not marked. So, AAA Clubs throughout the Midwest began posting signs to roadside utility poles, identifying roads and telling drivers which towns were ahead and the distance to those towns. In 1917, an insurance exchange was formed by the Chicago club and by 1924, the Detroit club was writing more car insurance than any other insurance organization in the country.
“Safety First!” was the rallying cry of the early AAA Clubs, inspiring such innovations as the first stop sign, the first School Safety Patrol, the first formalized driver education classes and more. AAA’s founders were also instrumental in making Minnesota the first state to dedicate gasoline taxes and license plate fees to the construction of safer roads and highways.
The nation's first fleet of tow trucks marked the start of AAA’s legendary roadside assistance program in 1920. A three-truck fleet patrolled the streets of Chicago, creating the model for other regional clubs to follow. Today, AAA’s roadside assistance network responds to nearly seven million calls each year. Regional clubs in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida played key roles in developing AAA’s Approved Auto Repair and mobile battery replacement programs.
AAA’s entry into the travel and tourism business started early as well. The first commercially printed road maps and tour guides were issued free to AAA Members starting in the teens. And in 1926, AAA sold the first scheduled passenger tickets to members flying from Dearborn to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Today, AAA Travel stands proudly as North America’s leading full-service leisure travel agency.