Shack o' Shame: AAA
by Mike Osborne
Cartoon by Jon Towle

AAA - Shack O' Shame This month's resident in our infamous Shack of Shame is the American Automobile Association (AAA). If you're paying to carry one of their cards, or if your hard-earned dollars are going toward premiums to be insured by them, you'll be interested in what they're doing with their profits.

AAA is a nationwide operation that's broken down by states. In California, there's the California State Automobile Association (CSAA), which opposed any attempt to repeal the California helmet law. After receiving its [AAA's] error-filled "Legislative Update" in March, which called for the defeat of AB244, an attempt to repeal the helmet law for riders 21 and over, Easyriders decided to investigate.

Among the bad info contained in Triple A's update, were the assertions that motorcyclists were mostly uninsured (untrue) and that head injuries were the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents (also untrue: thoracic trauma is number one) The insurance information was accredited to the California Department of Insurance (DOI) and the accident data was supposedly supplied from the NHTSA.

We contacted the California DOI. They remembered sending some information to the CSAA, but said they informed the CSAA that the data was woefully incomplete and possibly flawed. The understanding we were given was that the data was informational only and not for publication. Our information is that after the misuse of this data came to light, the California DOI cut the CSAA off from any further access. We haven't been able to verify this yet, but it seems appropriate.

We then contacted the CSAA directly. What we got was a lot of double-talk and excuses. When asked why a company that doesn't insure motorcycles was so interested in California's helmet law, all they could say was, "Triple A has a long history of supporting safely legislation." When questioned about their incorrect assertion that head injuries were the leading cause of death in bike accidents, they cited NHTSA. NHTSA, however, didn't come forward with any such stats.

We then asked AAA's political hack, Richard Shrader, if CSAA knew what the leading cause of death in car accidents was (head injury). He said he had no idea. So. we replied, "Let's see if we've got this straight. You don't insure bikes, but you know all about the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. You do insure cars but you have no idea what the leading cause of death is in car accidents! Is it just us, or is there a problem here?" Shrader told us this wasn't a court of law and he wasn't going to be cross examined. He assured me, though, that Triple A's reason for supporting helmet laws had nothing whatsoever to do with taking motorcycles off the road. Yeah, right!

So, we'll leave it up to you to cross examine your AAA rep. Give 'em a call and ask what they're doing with your premium money. If they have so much of it they can go around fighting against personal freedom then maybe they should give some of it back. --Oz

Printed with permission, Easyriders. Issue - October 1996, p. 20.

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