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Automobile Association

The Automobile Association (also referred to as The AA) is a British motoring organization.


On June 29, 1905 a group of motoring enthusiasts met at the Trocadero restaurant in the West End of London. This was the inauguration of the Automobile Association, formed to help motorists avoid police speed traps.

AA vintage sidecar

By 1906 the association took a stand on road safety issues, and erected thousands of roadside warning signs.

In 1908, the AA published the AA Members' Special Handbook, a list of nationwide agents and mechanics. The following year saw the introduction of the AA's free legal system.

Between 1910 and 1929 the AA introduced AA Routes. To this day, the association continues to produce travel guides and maps. AA Publishing has grown to be the UK's dominant publisher of travel literature. Also, from 1912 the AA began inspecting hotels and restaurants, issuing the coveted AA Star Classification to those deemed to be of superior quality. By 1914, the AA had grown to 83,000 members.

In the 1920s the association introduced pre-purchase and post-accident repair checks.

By 1939, the AA's membership had grown to 725,000, a number equivalent, at the time, to 35 percent of all UK cars. World War II ended and the AA began to protest wartime petrol rationing. The campaign was successful and rationing was repealed in 1950. This was the first of many campaigns, led by the AA, that were aimed at championing the rights of British motorists.

Other campaigns, in which the AA have been instrumental, include the compulsory wearing of seatbelts, and the introduction of lead-free petrol. Seatbelt legislation became law in the UK in 1983.

1949 saw the launch of the AA's breakdown and recovery service. Initially only available in London and surrounding districts, it has been gradually extended to cover most of the UK.

The AA Insurance brokerage service started life in 1967. Today, AA Insurance is the UK's largest motor insurance company. The service was later extended to cover home and life insurance.

In 1973 AA Roadwatch began broadcasting traffic alerts on UK commercial radio stations. It grew to become the largest broadcaster of traffic information in Europe. AA Relay was introduced later that year, a service that promised to deliver a broken-down vehicle, its driver and passengers, luggage and trailer to anywhere in Britain.

In 1992, the AA Driving School was launched and now employs more than 1,300 qualified driving instructors. By 1994, AA's membership was at eight million and growing. Current estimates place the figure at over twelve million members.