1980-1989

1980

Records 15.6 million Emergency Road Service calls nationwide.

Gears up for oil shortage caused by Iranian hostage situation. AAA President James B. Creal chairs gasoline rationing Task Force and serves on Issue Identification Task Force. He is also appointed to President Carter’s National Council on Energy Efficiency. AAA representatives serving on the president’s Alcohol Fuels Commission are requested to sign the Energy Securities Act of 1980.

Begins noting properties in TourBook® guides that provide easier access for handicapped persons. The Campground Directory title changes to AAA CampBook™.

About this time

U.S. breaks diplomatic ties with Iran. Eight U.S. servicemen are killed and five are injured as a helicopter and cargo plane collide in an abortive desert raid to rescue American hostages in Teheran. Olympic Games open in Moscow but are boycotted by U.S. and other nations. Musician John Lennon is killed.

1981

Introduces AAA SUPERNUMBER® (800-AAA-HELP), a toll-free emergency information service for members traveling outside their home club area. After a test period, the service is launched nationwide the next year.

Begins including life safety procedures in TourBook® guides for lodging fire emergency situations and AAA requirements for accommodations include fire safety provisions.

Introduces Autograph program for evaluating new cars. This becomes the basis for a new book, Autograph.

Is represented by AAA President James B. Creal on the Industries Advisory Board of Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus.

Launches AAA World magazine to replace American Motorist. The new magazine is produced at the AAA National Office and distributed by as many as 17 clubs over the next 16 years.

Combines its two instruction manuals for towing foreign-made and American-made vehicles into one manual, which remains the authoritative text on towing cars.

About this time

Ronald Reagan becomes president of the U.S. He is wounded in an assassination attempt, as are his press secretary and two law enforcement officers. Millions around the world watch the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in Great Britain. Judge Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first woman to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

1982

Introduces Starting Early program, a new alcohol education program for elementary school-age children. It includes seven teaching modules, one for each grade, kindergarten through grade 6.

Launches infant/child car safety seat program.

Creates Financial Services Department to administer the AAA/VISA credit card program, a travelers checks operation and AAA/U.S. government money market account.

About this time

Princess Grace of Monaco dies in an automobile accident. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dies, and Yuri Andropov is chosen to succeed him. The first launched U.S. space shuttle, Columbia, lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California after a five-day trip.

1983

Identifies scenic highways on AAA sheet maps for the first time. Scenic highway designations become an integral part of AAA mapping and are included on all AAA maps, including Internet TripTik® routings.

Offers airline default protection plan through travel agencies in response to travel agent and public concern over the precarious financial position of certain air carriers.

Begins identifying lodging properties in TourBook® giudes that feature room smoke alarms/sprinklers.

About this time

Second U.S. space shuttle, Challenger, makes successful maiden voyage, which includes the first space walk in nine years. Sally Ride becomes the first woman astronaut in space. A South Korean jetliner strays into Soviet airspace and is shot down. U.S. and Caribbean allies invade Grenada.

1984

Publishes the AAA North American Road Atlas. It is the first AAA atlas to use all AAA maps and not the imprint of another mapping company, and a year later it is sold at retail outlets and makes the New York Times best-seller paperback list.

Begins co-sponsoring the Plymouth/AAA Trouble-Shooting Contest for aspiring auto mechanics. The contest is designed to assist high school students in developing auto repair skills, increase interest in the auto repair industry and encourage opportunities in auto repair for students.

Stores more than 13,000 full-color map images on an optical laser disc for demonstration on an in-car navigation device in the Chrysler Pavilion at the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition.

Begins designating restaurants that provide non-smoking sections in TourBook® guides; a comprehensive list is included in 1985 TourBook® guides.

Has the largest number of accredited retail travel agency locations in the U.S., and travel agency sales exceed $1 billion.

Begins a one-year pilot project, On-line Touring Information System (OTIS).

Works with the Coalition to Halt Auto Theft to achieve passage of the Motor Vehicle Theft Law Enforcement Act of 1984.

Expands AAA SUPERNUMBER® (800-AAA-HELP) toll-free emergency information service into Canada.

About this time

Bell Telephone System is broken up by courts. The Soviet Union withdraws from the Summer Olympic Games in the U.S. The nation’s first compulsory seat belt law is enacted in New York. Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi is assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards.

1985

Launches Fred Flintstone All-American Buckle Up campaign concurrently with national safety education to promote use of seat belts and infant/child car safety seats.

Wins an award in a JC Penney Co. competition for accomplishments in launching or expanding its programs to aid handicapped persons. AAA is honored for publishing the Handicapped Drivers Mobility Guide, including a handicapped symbol in TourBook® guides and developing its adaptive equipment vehicle testing program, which tests ease of use of vehicles modified for those with disabilities. AAA also launches a pilot program for advanced driver training for disabled drivers.

Sees the U.S. Air Force implement AAA Driver Improvement Program on a worldwide basis. DIP is already in use by Navy and Marine Corps personnel.

Wins Presidential Citation Award for Private Sector Initiatives, which honors outstanding volunteer projects for the AAA School Safety Patrol Program and Lifesaving Medal Award.

Launches Full Service Pledge Program, which asks service stations to guarantee that full-service customers will receive a minimum of five automotive maintenance checks every time they get gas.

About this time

Mikhail Gorbachev becomes USSR leader. Space shuttle Challenger flies its largest crew ever on an international mission.

1986

Receives recognition when President Ronald Reagan honors Shelby L. Butler, a recipient of AAA’s School Safety Patrol Lifesaving Medal from St. Joseph, Mo., in his Feb. 4 State of the Union Address. She is the first patroller to be so honored.

Is designated a certified frequency coordinator in its automobile emergency radio service spectrum by the Federal Communications Commission.

Offers TripAssist, a 24-hour emergency service providing medical, legal and transportation services to international travelers.

About this time

Space shuttle Challenger explodes soon after launch at Cape Canaveral, Fla., killing all seven aboard. Nuclear accident occurs at USSR Chernobyl power station.

1987

Helps defeat 10-cent per gallon federal gasoline tax.

Participates in Transportation 2020, a group of public and private organizations formed to assess long-term highway needs.

Provides On-line Touring Information System (OTIS) to all AAA clubs.

Supports a law authorizing the federal government to spend $87.5 billion over a five-year period to complete the interstate highway system.

About this time

Iraqi missiles kill 37 in an attack on U.S. frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf. Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wins a rare third term. Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand make the first transatlantic hot-air balloon flight, 2,790 miles from Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine, to Ireland.

1988

Focuses legislative efforts on the Truck & Bus Safety Regulatory Reform Act of 1988 requiring interstate drivers and equipment to meet federal safety regulations. The act is signed into law in November.

Combines On-line Touring Information System (OTIS) with other automated services under the name AAA Travel Match.

About this time

Automated cartography system makes its debut. The U.S. and Canada reach a free trade agreement. Benazir Bhutto, the first Islamic woman prime minister, is chosen to lead Pakistan. A Pan-Am 747 explodes from a terrorist bomb and crashes in Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 aboard and 11 on the ground.

1989

Membership passes 31 million.

Reverses a long-standing policy against toll roads in order to explore the use of impact fees as alternative financing.

Moves the AAA National Office from Falls Church, Va., to Heathrow, Fla., near Orlando.

About this time

More than 1 million people in Beijing demonstrate for democracy, and thousands are killed in the city’s Tiananmen Square. After 28 years, the Berlin Wall is felled. Ruptured tanker Exxon Valdez sends 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The first World Wide Web server and browser are developed.

Podcasts

B-Roll

YouTube Videos

AAA Senior Driver Expos

NewsRoom Video Gallery

Media: Find and Download AAA Videos and B Roll.