1990-1999

1990

Joins the Federal Highway Administration, Avis, General Motors and the Florida Department of Transportation in the Smart Car experiment, also known as the TravTek Project. This test of a computerized in-car navigation and travel information system proves consumer acceptance of telematics technology that would make driving easier and reduce traffic congestion.

Publishes AAA Travel Activity Book, the official AAA TourBook® guide for kids.

Begins offering a cellular phone program to members.

About this time

Western Alliance ends the Cold War and proposes joint action with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. President George Bush signs the Clean Air Act, mandating a variety of pollution-reducing changes in the automobile and fuel industries. The Persian Gulf War begins when Iraqi troops invade Kuwait.

1991

Expands city map program by adding 69 new titles.

About this time

Congress freezes size and weight limits on trucks in 1991. Europeans end sanctions on South Africa, and the South African Parliament repeals apartheid laws. Gopher, the first user-friendly Internet interface, is created at the University of Minnesota and named after the school mascot.

1992

Launches Freedom’s Way, a new volunteer action program, to protect America’s environment and motorists’ freedom of mobility, as a response to concern about congestion and overcrowding in national parks and other public lands.

Wins the grand award for quality commercial landscape maintenance in the Environmental Improvement Awards competition of the Associated Landscape Contractors of America.

Begins nationwide radio broadcasting of the weekly Car Care Minute. Listeners receive basic car care tips from AAA Automotive Engineering and Road Services.

Makes Travel Weekly’s Top 50 Travel Agencies list when Auto Club South, based in Tampa, Fla., is recognized. In subsequent years, AAA club travel agencies continue to be ranked on this list by total sales.

Implements a toll-free, touch-tone service for ordering TripTik® routing maps over the phone.

Continues co-sponsoring annual auto skills contest, which changes name to Chrysler/AAA Troubleshooting Contest, for high school students.

Begins testing TravelMatch Express in Florida. The self-service terminal works like an ATM, with rotating menus and touch-control screens that allow users to obtain local travel information.

About this time

U.S. President George Bush and USSR President Boris Yeltsin proclaim a formal end to the Cold War. U.S. lifts trade sanctions against China. Compact discs surpass cassette tapes as the preferred medium for recorded music.

1993

Membership passes 35 million.

Receives certificate of excellence from the Public Relations Society of America for AAA Potomac’s carjacking reward program.

Has Diamond-rated properties listed in the OAG, Official Airline Guide business travel planner.

Wins four awards of excellence from PBS for a travel video series that began in 1991.

Publishes the first Spanish-language edition of the AAA Mexico TravelBook® guide.

About this time

Five suspects are arrested in bombing of World Trade Center in New York City. U.S. Congress approves the North American Free Trade Agreement. First human cloning occurs at the cellular level.

1994

Membership reaches 36 million.

Teams with Walt Disney World to open the Ocala Travel Center in Ocala, Fla. Just off I-75, the center provides membership and services including theme park tickets, hotels, TripTik® routings and services for nonmembers.

Receives a record-setting number of calls, almost 200,000, through SUPERNUMBER during the first three weeks of January due to extreme cold, heavy snow and icy conditions in many areas of the country.

Publishes the AAA Guide to National Parks, which becomes the No. 1 seller in its category on Amazon.com four years later.

Provides members the option to order TripTik® routing maps over the Internet.

Continues co-sponsorship of annual auto skills challenge, now named Auto Skills Contest and co-sponsored by Ford Motor Co.

About this time

O. J. Simpson is arrested in the killings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and friend Ronald Goldman. The FDA approves the Flavr Savr tomato, the first genetically engineered food product. The term “spam” is introduced to the Internet vocabulary as Internet commerce sites are established and mass marketing campaigns are launched via e-mail.

1995

Names Robert L. Darbelnet president and CEO of AAA.

Publishes the brochure, “Flying Alone: Handy Advice for Kids Traveling Solo,” which becomes the most-requested free AAA brochure.

Launches AAA Financial Services Corp., a new company owned by the AAA National Office and clubs. In partnership with banks, FSC provides financial products and services to AAA members including mortgages, home equity loans, CDs, credit cards and auto loans. Five years later, FSC becomes a department of the AAA National Office and continues to provide financial products and services to members.

Changes name of national AAA World magazine to Car & Travel.

About this time

Russian space station Mir greets first Americans. Scores are killed as a terrorist’s car bomb blows up the Oklahoma City federal building. Pope John Paul II visits the U.S. on whirlwind tour.

1996

Introduces Teaching Teens to Drive, a new driver’s education program focusing on parent involvement in teen driving education.

Kicks off Crisis Ahead: America’s Aging Highways and Airways campaign, which leads to AAA helping shape two pieces of landmark legislation: the Transportation Equity Act for the 21 Century (TEA-21) in 1998 and the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21) in 2000. Both laws embrace the principle that user fees charged to motorists and air travelers should be fully invested in improving and modernizing the nation’s surface and air transportation infrastructures.

Begins the Community Traffic Safety Program, an expansion of AAA’s Pedestrian Protection Program, focusing on traffic enforcement, engineering, school safety and public information.

Releases Map ’N’ Go, a computer program for a new travel and mapping tool created by AAA and the map-making firm DeLorme. The software receives critical acclaim in many publications.

Signs an agreement with Thomas Cook Group Ltd. to create the travel industry’s largest travel alliance operation. The alliance continues until 1999.

Begins offering AAA Financial Services Corp. products and services through PNC Bank.

About this time

President Bill Clinton appoints Madeleine Albright as the first female U.S. Secretary of State. Dr. Ian Wilmut and his team clone the world’s first sheep from adult cells. The lamb is named Dolly.

1997

Membership reaches 40 million.

Joins with Chrysler and the American Academy of Pediatrics to produce the brochure “ABC’s of Airbag Safety,” a guide for parents on how to keep their children safe when riding in a car with airbags.

Produces “Road Rage: How to Avoid Aggressive Driving” brochure through the Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Launches Licensed to Learn campaign at a press conference in Washington, D.C. The program is designed to increase awareness of the need for graduated driver licensing laws in every state. At the outset of the campaign, only eight states had enacted GDL laws. By 2001, that figure had risen to 44.

Releases “Clearing the Air,” an updated report on emission trends in major cities throughout the U.S.

Launches national website AAA.com. Through this portal, users can access their local club’s website by entering their zip codes. Over the years, additional features are added to the site to further serve members.

Unveils its new logo in a celebration at the AAA National Office in Heathrow, Fla. The new look keeps the traditional capital A’s in an oval and sports an orbit around the oval.

Becomes the official tourist agency for EXPO 2000, the millennium World’s Fair in Hannover, Germany.

Begins providing roadside assistance service for all General Motors divisions.

About this time

Hong Kong returns to Chinese rule. The European Union plans to admit six nations. Princess Diana of Great Britain is killed in an automobile crash in Paris.

1998

Creates “A Century of Public Service” brochure to help communicate the history of AAA’s public policy activities to members and the general public.

Produces its first city map using Geographic Information System (GIS) digital database technology, the AAA Metro Atlanta Citimap.

Is named the Clinton administration’s No. 1 traffic safety partner by U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.

Implements Battery Assist mobile battery testing and delivery service in four clubs, which enables service vehicle drivers diagnosing battery failure to install replacement batteries at the scene when members request the service.

Discontinues the national publication Car & Travel, and the Automobile Club of New York obtains rights to the name and begins publishing Car & Travel Monthly.

Lobbies heavily for passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).

Encourages more widespread student Auto Skills Contest competition by introducing an international champion trophy.

About this time

Congress puts up a firewall that keeps Highway Trust Fund revenues, such as federal gas taxes, from being used for purposes other than building and maintaining roads. European Union nations agree on a single currency, the euro. President Clinton is accused in a White House sex scandal. Seventy-seven-year-old Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, returns to orbit in the space shuttle Discovery.

1999

Partners with NHTSA to produce “New Car Safety Features” brochure.

Launches AAA NewsRoom. The website, designed for media use, is developed and updated by the AAA Public Relations department. It contains news releases, fact sheets and other information about AAA. The website and media kit announcing its launch win awards from the Florida Public Relations Association.

Introduces a new version of Traveling With Your Pet — The AAA PetBook®, which combines information from the previous four-edition set into one book covering North America and adds information on flying, crossing borders and national parks.

Changes credit card partner from PNC Bank to MBNA America, when MNBA America purchases the AAA credit card portfolio.

Introduces TripWizard, a hand-held travel companion that provides information on highway exits, lodgings, gas stations, restaurants and driving directions.

Is represented in PC Computing magazine when the publication rates the AAA Financial Services Corp. website one of its five “Top Picks.”

About this time

Nelson Mandela, first black president of South Africa, steps down. The world awaits consequences of the Y2K computer bug, which ultimately are less dire than predicted. John F. Kennedy Jr., wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sister die when a plane he was piloting crashes into the ocean off Massachusetts. Two students storm Columbine High School in Littleton , Colo., killing 12 other students and a teacher, then themselves.

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