Speed traps and the Automobile Association!

I was surprised to read in the Automobile Associations website that the AA was formed initially to help motorists breaking the speed limit from getting caught! Although their official duties were ‘Indicating dangers on the road and helping motorists who had broken down.’

In 1905, Charles Jarrott, a successful racing driver, amongst other like minded people, decided to form ‘The Motorist’ Mutual Association. A week later they changed the name to the ‘Automobile Association’. Their initial aim was to overcome the perceived police oppression of motorists and the use of speed traps!

They employed one motor cyclist and three petal cyclists to patrol main roads and warn members of speed traps in Brighton and Portsmouth. Membership rose from  100 members in 1905 to 83,000 in 1914. By 1912 they employed 950 cyclist patrols.

The AA first insurance policy was set up with Lloyds bank, with no profit going to the AA. The first routes were hand drawn around 1912 and the AA started inspecting and classify in hotels around that time.


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