(LOS ANGELES – Dec. 13, 2010) – Today is the Automobile Club of Southern California’s 110th birthday. To mark the occasion, here is a timeline of significant events in Auto Club and Southland history.
Dec. 13, 1900 – Auto Club is established by 10 “horseless carriage” enthusiasts to promote motoring, advocate for improved roads and establish access to fair and competent repairs.
1904 – First office opens at 356 S. Broadway, in the O.T. Johnson Building.
1909 – Touring Topics, the precursor to today’s Westways magazine, begins publication.
1911 – Touring Information Bureau opens to provide travel information, maps, and TourBooks to members.
1912 – Interinsurance Exchange begins providing auto insurance at a lower cost than that available from farm insurers, with the distinctive premise of returning unused funds to policyholders as premium savings. Today the Exchange is the largest auto insurer in Southern California and the No. 2 car insurer statewide.
1914 – Auto Club establishes “theft bureau” to assist police in stolen vehicle recovery.
1923 – Current headquarters at 2601 S. Figueroa Street opens. The Los Angeles landmark was designed by Sumner Hunt and Silas Burns, who helped popularize the Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival styles of architecture.
1924 – The Club’s Highway Patrol Service – later the Service Patrol – begins driving Southland streets on regular routes to assist with breakdowns and hazards.
1925 – Emergency Road Service is offered as an included member benefit for all members for the first time.
1930-31 – Auto Club expeditions map a route for the International Pacific Highway from Alaska to Argentina.
1937 – An Auto Club report recommends limited-access “motorways” (freeways) as a means of reducing street congestion. Also that year, the Auto Club helped convince state legislators to set aside money for construction of those motorways.
1940 – Los Angeles’ first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway, opens.
1942 – Club members volunteer to give rides to visiting servicemen as part of the Auto Club’s Service Motor Patrol during World War II. Other war-era efforts by the Auto Club include providing maps and cartographers to the armed services, and sign-posting for Southern California blackouts.
1943 – Gen. Patton’s advance through the Sahara Desert and North Africa is assisted by Auto Club engineers’ road-building expertise.
1950 – By its 50th birthday, the Auto Club is the largest motor club within the AAA federation, with 300,000 members.
1959 – A three-year construction boom for the Club results in 36 new or expanded district offices.
1960 – The state Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board is created with a seat for the Auto Club.
1967 – Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center opens to conduct studies of vehicle emissions and performance.
1970 – Modern “TripTiks,” formerly known as strip maps, are introduced to help travelers plan road trips.
1974 – The Commuter Computer, a joint Auto Club/government/private business effort, starts matching carpoolers.
1983 – Auto Club membership surpasses 3 million.
1984 – Auto Club supports mandatory seat belt law, which helps reduce crash injuries by 40 percent over the next 13 years.
1984 – The Interinsurance Exchange starts offering homeowner’s insurance to members. It is now the sixth largest home insurer in California..
1991 – Auto Club’s Interinsurance Exchange is first major auto insurer to provide Prop. 103 rebates.
1996 – The Auto Club begins it expansion beyond Southern California by taking over AAA Texas, New Mexico and Hawaii.
1997 – Auto Club sponsors legislation establishing the Graduated Driver’s Licensing law for teens, allowing them to ease into the driving experience. After taking effect in 1998, the law results in a 24 percent reduction in at-fault crashes for 16-year-old drivers.
1999 – Online travel reservations are made available to members.
2000 – By the time of the Auto Club’s Centennial, nearly 5 million Southern Californians are members.
2001 – The first Auto Club Driving School for teens opens in Long Beach; Auto Club sponsors an enhanced
child passenger law requiring children under age 6 or under 60 pounds to ride in booster seats
2003 – The Auto Club begins offering Premier memberships with additional member benefits, including extended distance towing and concierge service.
2005 – The “CarFit” program is added to assist mature drivers in staying on the road safely.
2010 – The Auto Club now serves more than 6 million members in Southern California and has operating agreements with seven AAA clubs covering nearly one-quarter of the U.S.