March 9, 2003
Here’s a rundown on some of the spats between AAA and its critics.
In March 2002, two AAA clubs in California sent a letter to the California Senate opposing legislation that would lower carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. The letter argued that the rules could "result in significant adverse consequences for the motoring public in California."
Charges that AAA opposed raising the federal gas tax in 1991 are borne out by a AAA publication that states: "AAA opposes attempts to further increase the federal gasoline tax – especially for non-highway purposes." AAA said it opposed the increase because the proposal would have included funding for public transportation rather than earmarking all the money for highway work.
A 1991 AAA press release complains: "The Clean Air Act passed by Congress in the closing days of this session will add an estimated $500 to the price tag of a new car, starting with 1994 models. Cost to car buyers: An estimated $3.5 billion over five years."
A survey by AAA in 1991 showed that nearly 84 percent of Americans supported raising the standards for fuel economy from 27 miles per gallon to 40 miles per gallon by 2001. Sixty-nine percent said auto makers could meet the new standards through better technology, not by making cars smaller and less safe. However, AAA announced that despite its members’ opinions, it supported "a more modest increase in fuel efficiency that would be realistic enough to ensure that passenger safety and consumer choice are not compromised."
In 1977, AAA said it opposed mandatory installation of air bags because they were "not as yet proven to be a reliable, cost-efficient addition to the modern-day automobile" and the high cost of replacing deployed air bags (then $629) would lead to higher insurance premiums that would "more than offset the small reduction in premiums for medical payments and personal injury."
A 1976 AAA magazine article said a U.S. Park Police and Department of Transportation study had found faulty performance in air bags. But the AAA article was "extremely misleading," said Park Police Inspector Hugh Groves, who added that his organization had "not conducted a study."
– Rosemary Camozzi