AAA Celebrates 80 Years of National Programs to Keep Motorists, Pedestrians Safe

ORLANDO, Florida, April 30, 2008

This week marks the 80th anniversary of the establishment of AAA’s national traffic safety programs, which have helped teach generations of children and adults how to be safer drivers and protect them from crashes.

Well known as the nation’s largest organization for motorists, AAA has been a pioneer in national traffic safety initiatives beginning with the establishment of its national traffic safety department in 1928.

“AAA is committed to the safety and security of motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and children,” said Robert L. Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA. “Over the past 80 years AAA has been at the forefront in the development of programs to protect our members and the traveling public. We continue that commitment today through our traffic safety and driver improvement programs and advocacy efforts addressing key issues such as child passenger safety, senior mobility and teen driver safety.”

Since the AAA School Safety Patrol started in 1920 and the first driver training was developed in 1935, AAA’s legacy of traffic safety programs has continued and grown. Through the years, AAA has added programs to address important issues such as child passenger safety, teen and senior driver safety, seatbelt usage and air bag safety.

Today, AAA offers a wide array of traffic safety programs to address the issues affecting its more than 51 million members as well as other drivers across North America, including:

  • Driver Education – AAA offers driver improvement programs for drivers at all levels of experience, from pre-permit and novice drivers to mature operators. AAA also provides parents instruction and guidance on teaching their teens to drive, as well as a network of approved driving schools.
  • Child Passenger Safety – AAA is a strong advocate for child passenger safety and has a long-term commitment to reducing injuries and deaths through its Seated, Safe & Secure campaign initiated in 2002. Through the initiative, AAA has worked to close loopholes in child restraint laws across the nation and educate the public about proper use of child restraints. AAA clubs have also been active in local communities promoting child passenger safety.
  • Senior Mobility – AAA launched its Lifelong Safety Mobility initiative in 2003 to address the mobility needs of our country’s growing senior population. Since then, AAA has developed a suite of senior programs as part of the initiative. CarFit, an educational program developed by the American Society on Aging in collaboration with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), helps mature drivers find out how well they “fit” with their vehicles, and what actions might be taken to improve their fit. AAA’s Smart Features for Mature Drivers educates on a broad range of vehicle features that help address health issues frequently faced by seniors, such as arthritic hands, diminished vision and loss of upper body strength.
  • In-School Programs – AAA offers several in-school traffic safety programs, including the AAA School Safety Patrol program and National School Traffic Safety Poster program, which both date back more than 60 years. Each fall, AAA also conducts an annual School’s Open—Drive Carefully public education campaign to remind motorists and students of the importance of school-zone safety.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at



Key Dates in AAA’s Traffic Safety History

1902 Nine motor clubs meet in Chicago to form the American Automotive Association

1920 AAA School Safety Patrol program gets underway

1928 AAA National Traffic Safety department established

1935 AAA pioneers driver education

1936 First AAA club owned and operated commercial driving school opens in Pennsylvania

1937 Pedestrian Protection Program introduced

First edition of How to Drive manual published

1945 National School Traffic Safety Poster Program begins

1947 Creation of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

1949 School Safety Patrol Lifesaving Award program initiated

1982 AAA’s Safe Driving for Mature Operators course introduced

1989 AAA and other safety groups persuade federal government to require lap/shoulder safety belts in rear seats of all passenger vehicles

1996 Teaching Your Teens to Drive: A Partnership for Survival driver education programs introduced

1997 ABC’s of Air Bag Safety education campaign reaches more than 31 million children

2002 Seated, Safe and Secure child passenger safety initiative launched

2003 Lifelong Safe Mobility senior mobility initiative launched

2006 AAA launches online driver improvement courses

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