1950-1959

1950

Membership passes the 3 million mark.

Opens offices in Paris and Rome.

Publishes “Your Driving Costs” pamphlet for the first time. This annual pamphlet scrutinizes costs of owning and operating an automobile, as well as some expenses of taking a vacation. It shows that lodging and meal costs for a family of four total $13 per day.

About this time

President Harry S. Truman orders the development of hydrogen bomb. He also orders U.S. forces into Korea.

1951

Pledges its now greatly increased facilities and resources to the National Defense Department for the duration of the Korean War.

Is involved with “Calling All Drivers,” a United Press weekly radio script prepared in cooperation with AAA. The subject matter is travel, cars, highway conditions, safe driving practices and motoring customs.

Campaigns to limit axle loads to 18,000 pounds to protect highways from damage by trucks. Congress begins imposing limits on truck size and weight five years later. AAA continues to campaign for responsible use of the highway system by heavy trucks through present day.

Opposes hauling explosives on highways without adequate regulation. This AAA campaign lasts until 1954, when AAA wins a major victory in Congress.

About this time

U.S. vehicle registrations exceed 50 million. Motorists travel 485 billion miles, consuming 37.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are sentenced to death for passing atomic secrets to Russians. Color television is introduced in the U.S.

1952

Celebrates its 50th birthday as the U.S. Postal Service issues a commemorative AAA stamp.

Publishes a booklet on vehicle controls for disabled persons.

Begins Safest Route to School program through the Traffic Safety department to encourage parents and children to use safe pedestrian habits when walking to school.

Is instrumental in securing ratification of the treaty that brought the International Driving Permit (IDP) into existence by the U.S.

Publishes Fill ’er Up, a history of motoring in America by Bellamy Partridge, through McGraw-Hill in celebration of AAA’s Golden Jubilee.

About this time

License plates are still not standardized, with 34 different lengths and 15 difference heights used in the U.S. England’s King George VI dies; his daughter becomes Elizabeth II.

1953

Membership passes 4 million.

Calls Highway Emergency Conference to bring attention to the inadequacy of the nation’s streets and highways in handling the mounting traffic volume. Clubs from 34 states are represented. The Traffic Safety department issues Traffic Tune-Up, advice on solving urban traffic problems.

Requests that auto manufacturers de-emphasize speed in selling their cars. After a four-year campaign by AAA, the Automobile Manufacturers Association agrees to omit all references to speed and horsepower in product claims.

About this time

Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated president of the U.S. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin dies. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norkay reach the top of Mt. Everest.

1954

Is instrumental in getting the 1954 Federal-Aid Highway Act passed. For the first time, substantial funding is earmarked for the national system of interstate highways.

Urges insurance companies to give discounts to young drivers who complete school driver education courses.

About this time

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously bans racial segregation in public schools. Physician Jonas Salk starts inoculating children against polio.

1955

Membership reaches 5 million.

Disbands its Contest Board and withdraws from sanctioning auto racing.

About this time

Federal Republic of West Germany becomes a sovereign state. Martin Luther King, Jr., leads boycott of Montgomery, Ala., bus system. AFL and CIO become one organization.

1956

Is largely responsible for passage of the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act, the most ambitious public works program in the nation’s history. It follows on the president’s proposal to spend $50 billion on a 10-year highway construction program, the basis for establishment of the Highway Trust Fund.

Makes a grant to Columbia University Teachers College through the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety for the scientific study of traffic safety.

Establishes an accommodations inspection program in Europe.

About this time

Egypt takes control of the Suez Canal.

1957

Campaigns to regulate outdoor advertising along the interstate highway system, and regulations are imposed a year later.

Publishes How to Drive, the first driving instruction book for adults.

Wins National Committee on Films for Safety award through the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety for Two Sleeping Lions.

Distributes more than 100 million copies of TourBook® guides and maps to members.

About this time

The Space Age begins when the USSR launches Sputnik I, the first satellite to orbit the Earth. President Eisenhower sends troops to Little Rock, Ark., to quell a mob and protect school integration.

1958

Membership reaches 6 million.

Publishes Planned Pedestrian Program, a comprehensive study of tested and proven techniques for saving pedestrian lives, through the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Exhibits driver training equipment at international trade fairs in Africa, Yugoslavia and Turkey.

Establishes an accommodations inspection program in the Orient, Mid-East and Far East.

About this time

The U.S. Army’s Jupiter-C rocket is the first U.S. Earth satellite, Explorer I, in orbit. Egypt and Syria merge into United Arab Republic. The French adopt a new constitution and Charles de Gaulle is elected president of France’s Fifth Republic.

1959

Sponsors the first electronic traffic control conference through the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Combines and publishes TourBook® guides and Accommodations Directories in nine volumes.

Is represented on TV program U.S. Steel Hour when comedian Buster Keaton follows AAA’s Official Camping Guide instructions to prepare for a camping trip.

About this time

Cuban President Fulgencio Batista resigns and flees as Fidel Castro takes over the country. The St. Lawrence Seaway opens, allowing ocean ships to reach the U.S. Midwest.

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