AA - AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION
The Automobile Association (also referred to as The AA) is a British motoring organization formed on June 29, 1905 when a group of motoring enthusiasts met at the Trocadero restaurant in the West End of London. This was the inauguration of the Automobile Association, formed to help motorists avoid police speed traps.
By 1906 the association took a stand on road safety issues, and erected thousands of roadside warning signs. In 1908, the AA published the AA Members' Special Handbook, a list of nationwide agents and mechanics. The following year saw the introduction of the AA's free legal system.
Typical AA roadside rescue motorcycle
Between 1910 and 1929 the AA introduced AA Routes. To this day, the association continues to produce travel guides and maps. AA Publishing has grown to be the UK's dominant publisher of travel literature. Also, from 1912 the AA began inspecting hotels and restaurants, issuing the coveted AA Star Classification to those deemed to be of superior quality. By 1914, the AA had grown to 83,000 members.
In the 1920s the association introduced pre-purchase and post-accident repair checks.
By 1939, the AA's membership had grown to 725,000, a number equivalent, at the time, to 35 percent of all UK cars. World War II ended and the AA began to protest about wartime petrol rationing. The campaign was successful and rationing was repealed in 1950. This was the first of many campaigns, led by the AA, that were aimed at championing the rights of British motorists.
Other campaigns, in which the AA have been instrumental, include the compulsory wearing of seatbelts, and the introduction of lead-free petrol. Seatbelt legislation became law in the UK in 1983.
1949 saw the launch of the AA's breakdown and recovery service. Initially only available in London and surrounding districts, it has been gradually extended to cover most of the UK.
The AA Insurance brokerage service started life in 1967. Today, AA Insurance is the UK's largest motor insurance company. The service was later extended to cover home and life insurance.
In 1973 AA Roadwatch began broadcasting traffic alerts on UK commercial radio stations. It grew to become the largest broadcaster of traffic information in Europe. AA Relay was introduced later that year, a service that promised to deliver a broken-down vehicle, its driver and passengers, luggage and trailer to anywhere in Britain.
AA roadside rescue van
In 1992, the AA Driving School was launched and now employs more than 1,300 qualified driving instructors. By 1994, AA's membership was at eight million and growing. Current estimates place the figure at over twelve million members.
In 1999 the association demutualised and was sold to Centrica, the holding company of British Gas. Each full personal member of the association's breakdown services in the UK and Ireland received a payout of over a hundred pounds, which for many of them was more than they had ever paid in membership fees. A new organisation The AA Motoring Trust was formed in 2002 to take over the non-commercial activities of the AA.
In 2004 the AA was sold for GBP 1.75 billion to two European private equity firms, CVC and Permira.
THE AA MOTORING TRUST
The AA Motoring Trust is a trust created in 2002 to continue the non-commercial roading and road safety activities of the AA after its demutalisation and sale. The receives funding from the Automobile Association and has a licence to use the AA brand.
The AA Motoring Trust is governed by a board of up to 15 members with half of its members appointed by the Automobile Association it shares a similar history to the RAC Foundation.
The AA Motoring Trust was created by the AA to champion the interests and safety of Britain's road users. At the heart of its work is research and information on road safety, particularly to protect children. The charity's work includes: - Mapping Britain’s safest and least safe major roads - Crash testing new cars - Crash testing child car seats - Research showing how, where and when children are injured on the roads - Research into children’s attitudes to road safety to enable better teaching - Inspecting road tunnel safety equipment.
The AA Motoring Trust sponsors and commissions research and provides advocacy, advice and information across the field of motoring, roads and transport and the environment.
Through research and publicising its findings, the charity's objectives are to:
Increase the understanding of: - road safety and road maintenance and development - automobile design, safety and maintenance - causes and prevention of road traffic accidents - protection of the environment - social aspects of automobile use and transport generally. - Safeguard lives by promoting public safety, in particular: - road safety and road maintenance and development - safety in automobile design and maintenance - the design of other modes of transport - safe practices for all road-users including motorists, passengers and pedestrians.
The research experts of The AA Motoring Trust contribute to:
Government policy making - Key national and international working groups developing the future of motoring - Parliamentarians seeking expert briefing to form their manifestos and scrutinise legislation - Industry developing new ideas for safer and better motoring - Police, local authorities and government agencies wanting advice on best practice.
The AA Motoring Trust research programme content has led it to become the foremost commentator on motoring matters sought by the media.
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