Google and DOE map of alternative fuel locationsEnlarge Photo
Most drivers who grew up before the era of navigation systems and online mapping will remember TripTiks, the strip maps with highlighted routes that local AAA offices would provide to travelers before they set out on driving vacations.
The AAA doesn't give out nearly so many paper maps these days, and its TripTik service is now an app for mobile devices or an online function on the AAA's website.
In the spirit of keeping up with the evolving world of 21st-century transportation, AAA has now begun to identify electric-car charging station sites in its digital mapping tools.
It's one of several AAA initiatives to keep pace with the emergence of plug-in cars onto U.S. roads, including a test of roadside recharging services in several cities this year.
More than 2,000 publicly accessible electric vehicle charging locations are identified in the AAA maps, based on data supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Stations may be independently owned, or part of a network like ChargePoint; they may be free, or require payment. Those details, along with address, hours, and charging levels, are provided in a popup listing.
To find charging stations in the first place, AAA users click on a green plug icon for the charging-station overlay.
AAA's Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging truckEnlarge Photo
It's a return to the practice a century ago, when the AAA would mark rare gas stations on the maps it handed out to early 20th-century travelers.
And indeed, AAA still displays gas stations too in its online and mobile mapping tools, along with gas prices and various points of interest along the way for modern-day travelers.
All travelers can use the TripTik Travel Planner online, and smartphone users can download a free TripTik Mobile app from iTunes and Android app stores. The app uses the phone's built-in GPS to locate drivers in real time, just as a vehicle navigation system does.