AAA Washington & Northern Idaho


AAA Washington & Northern Idaho

Automotive Pioneer

AAA Washington was established in 1904 by 10 prominent Seattle businessmen with the mission of making automobile travel safe, comfortable and affordable. They soon led the effort in enacting laws to protect users of the public roads, erect directional signs and create legislation to provide for new transportation arteries. They were also active in drafting Washington's first traffic code requiring auto licensing, one lighted lamp for hours of darkness, a muffler, "good and efficient" brakes, a bell or horn, and speed limits of 12 m.p.h. in city and 24 m.p.h. on the open road. Though the requirements were few, they were a substantial accomplishment considering the state of the day's roads. A century later the fruits of their labor are still visible throughout our state.

Paving the Road Ahead

In addition to our renowned Premier Road Service, AAA offers travel, insurance, financial and automotive services, and is active in highway and transportation safety programs. Our continued leadership in all facets of motoring has made us the most respected service-oriented organization in the Northwest.


Our History

This timeline shows how AAA has helped lead the way in all facets of automotive history and is poised to continue paving the road ahead.

1904 The Automobile Club of Seattle is formed September 23.
1905 The club helps draft the state’s first traffic code, requiring licensing, a muffler, “one lighted lamp during darkness,” good and efficient brakes and a horn.
1906 The signing of streets, roads and highways receives its initial impetus when the club and members donate 500 directional road signs.
1907 The club’s first organized road trip was to Cohasset Beach in November.
1909 The club promotes automobile travel in Mount Rainier National Park, leading the way to motoring being allowed in other national parks.
1910 The club publishes its first tour book featuring destinations in western Washington.
1912 The Inland Automobile Association is formed covering eastern Washington and northern Idaho.
1917 All automobile clubs in central and western Washington unite under the name Automobile Club of Western Washington. Later, the club’s name is shortened to the Automobile Club of Washington.
1918 The Aero Club of the Northwest, which was headed by Bill Boeing, rents desk space in the Auto Club’s Seattle office building. This sparks the auto club’s interest in air travel and concerns about adequate access to airports that will one day be built in the same state.
1922 The club dispatches mapping crews to survey all highways as far as Salt Lake and Denver, up through the national parks in Montana and into Alberta and British Columbia.
1926 The club contracts with “reputable garages” to offer emergency road service for members.
1927 The Automobile Club Insurance Agency begins selling automobile insurance policies to members.
1930 The club begins offering “air travel services” and advertises “trip planning anywhere in the world.”
1933 The Tacoma Service Center becomes the headquarters for United Airlines, handling its reservations for travel throughout the country.
1940 Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower joins the club while stationed at Ft. Lewis.
1941 The club solicits members to volunteer for “Emergency Transport Duty” in the event of a military emergency evacuation.
1942 Members urged to take shorter Sunday drives in light of national tire and gas rationing programs. Club provides trip routings for troops, military supplies and military families.
1945 As World War II draws to a close, club suggest members delay auto travel trips since old cars and tires, maintained throughout war shortages, may not be able to complete trip.
1952 Club supports a plan to build freeway linking Tacoma, Seattle and Everett, stating that future traffic demands make such a freeway imperative.
1954 The AAA Travel Agency becomes known as the “Worldwide Travel Department” with ticketing available for 45 airlines, 24 steamship lines and all bus and rail lines.
1956 The travel agency holds its first group tour, “Hula Holiday” to Hawaii, for 87 members.
1962 The club offers special World’s Fair motel/hotel reservations that bring in 300 requests daily. The club also sponsors a special day at the fair for 1,500 school safety patrol students.
1965 The club launches driving school, offering behind-the-wheel and classroom instruction.
1970 Club broadcasts rush hour traffic reports on KIRO-AM.
1971 Club inaugurates local loop tours map series, drawn by an in-house cartographer.
1972 The club is a sponsor of the CAR Institute, which works to rehabilitate DWI offenders.
1973 The first color picture appears on the front page of the Motorist.
1975 The club launches “Gas Watchers Program” in response to national gasoline shortages caused by oil embargoes.
1981 Club inspects auto repair shops and offers members Approved Auto Repair recommendations.
1982 The club sponsors classes for the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence, which trains and certifies mechanics.
1983 The Automobile Club of Washington changes its name to AAA Washington.
1984 The AAA Travel Agency charters the Concorde supersonic jet for the return trip on its first flight to the West Coast.
1989 “AAA World of Travel” debuts on KIRO-TV. The number of AAA Washington Emergency Road Service calls dispatched during a three-day December snow storm equaled the total number of calls dispatched in 1947.
1991 The club provides complimentary road service to Seahawk fans as part of the fan rescue program.
1992 The club extends road service to some recreational vehicles as PlusRV.
1993 The corporate office moves from Seattle to its current Bellevue location.
1995 AAA Washington reaches 500,000 members
1996 The club goes online with its first website hosted by AOL, and acquires its own website a year later.
1997 The Motorist is converted into a bi-monthly glossy magazine called Journey.
1998 Membership cards are changed into plastic, and AAA sponsors passing legislation to lower illegal BAC levels to .08 (from .1).
2003 AAA Washington merges with the Inland Automobile Association, covering Washington and northern Idaho, and changing its name to AAA Washington/Inland.
2004 AAA Washington/Inland has more than 830,000 members and nationally there are over 45 million AAA members.
2007 AAA nationally achieves 50 million members.
2009 AAA Washington partnered with Travelocity with the most advanced booking and information sources on the Internet.
2010 AAA Washington hits a milestone with more than 1 million members and nationally there are over 52 million AAA members.
2011 Kirk R. Nelson named AAA Washington President and CEO upon the retirement of Charlie Liekweg.