Sandhya Soman

AASI offers a range of services for its members today

CHENNAI: On the road since 1904, the Automobile Association of Southern India has come a long way in its 100 plus years of existence.

For starters, its membership has swelled from just six to 30,000 today. It's not just the membership that has picked up. The AASI has also moved on from removing horseshoes off the street for a puncture-free ride for their members to providing defensive driving training for corporate houses.

In 1949, C. Sathyanarayana felt it useful to join AASI as the owner of a Studebaker, a Fiat and a Hindustan. "Fifty years ago, they used to supply route maps. I found them useful whenever I went on tour. They used to attend to breakdowns immediately," recalls Mr. Sathyanarayana.

AASI supplies not just route maps now, but international driving licences for those who want to drive around when they are abroad.

Kalpana Yuvaraj, who runs a business concern, says she became an AASI member recently just to get hold of the international driving licence.

the demand for international licences is up ever since IT professionals started flying abroad.

"Every year, we give at least 2,000 permits to those going abroad. We are associated with automobile associations all over the world. The permit comes to your aid if your vehicle has a breakdown, as you just have to call the association and they will send you help," says secretary M.K. Subramanian.

Other than liaising with the transport department for helping members get driving licences, re-registration and fitness certificates, AASI also provides refresher training for drivers on how to drive better and responsibly.

"In the last five years, we have trained 2,250 drivers and nearly 850 executives of various companies in defensive driving techniques," says Mr. Subramanian. For AASI, road safety campaigns and programmes is a year-round business, he adds.

For details about AASI services, visit its Centre on 187, Anna Salai or call 044-28524061.