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Highway Patrol Service
Automobile Club of Southern California

1930s Auto Club highway patrol in Southern California

1930s Auto Club highway patrol Harley Davidsons in Southern California. Along with assisting motorists, patrollers used cameras to investigate traffic crashes. Image from Automobile Club of Southern California.

In 1924, several years before the establishment of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the Automobile Club of Southern California established the roadside assistance Highway Patrol Service. Auto Club trucks (and later motorcycles), with "Highway Patrol" emblazoned on their doors, began patroling the roads of California in search of disabled motor vehicles belonging to club members. When the state established the CHP in 1929, the Auto Club agreed to give up the term "Highway Patrol" for use by the state’s new law enforcement agency. This, naturally, led to ribbing by other law enforcement agencies. CHP officers were good-naturedly referred to as "AAA with a Badge" or "Auto Club with a Gun." In 1947, the Auto Club backed the separation of the CHP from the Department of Motor Vehicles to become an independent state agency.