Most motorists try to forget any of the times they pulled over on the side of a highway or roadway. Most of the time, they were on the roadside because their vehicle forced them to be. Whether a tire was flat, the battery was dead or the fuel tank ran dry. While it may be a situation you wish to forget, have you ever thought of when the idea of roadside assistance was born?
In today’s times, the name, “AAA” is well known in the world of towing and roadside assistance and even auto insurance. The “American Automobile Association” is responsible for starting the first roadside assistance service in the United States in April of 1915. At the time, a group of 5 motorcyclists found the self named, “First Aid Corps”. Sundays were not known as lazy for these 5 riders. They drove around every Sunday and searched for stranded motorists. The minor engine and tire repairs they performed were offered for free to everyone. The debut Sunday, 24 drivers were assisted. That number climbed to over 170 by the end of the month. The US was not the only country feeling the birth of roadside assistance.
The United Kingdom (UK) was being covered as early as 1905 by the Automobile Association (AA) and the Royal Automobile Club. Offering services to the public on the roadside, they also made tow trucks available to them. Drivers would be towed up to 20 miles to their home or a repair shop. The two clubs merged and became the RAC which still provides roadside services to this day.
Germany joined the roadside race in 1927 with the formation of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobile-club. Also known as ADAC, it is now known as Europe’s largest motoring association. The Netherlands was not left out either. Known as ANWB (Royal Dutch Touring Club), services began in 1927 for motorists and motorcyclists for roadside emergencies and disablements. ADAC and ANWB both provide roadside assistance but also provide traffic signage and assistance to hikers and often participate in search and rescue operations.
In modern times, the names of motoring clubs such as AAA, the RAC, and the ANWB still provide all of these valuable services to motorists on the highways and byways of their corresponding countries. The introduction of smartphones and other mobile technologies have only streamlined the roadside assistance world. Users can summon a service provider from anywhere by using these apps or calling a single phone number. Most of this convenience is available due to auto insurance providers. The next time you get a tire changed or a battery jumpstarted, be thankful for your auto insurance app that allowed you to call for help.
The world of roadside assistance has come a long way from the early 19th century. Updated assistance vehicles, increasingly large workforce, and more affordable motor club memberships have streamlined everything. When you need some help next time, just imagine what it was like over 100 years ago!