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Getting Gas When Driving with a Disability: The Law & Full Service

The average driver doesn't think that much about getting gas. They can just jump out of their car and get it over with, but for over 15 million drivers with disabilities in the United States, they are unable to pump their own gas and must rely on help to get gas for their vehicle.

Thankfully we have the ADA as our friend, but it's not always possible to rely on the law, which is why you need to get creative. You do not want to run out while on the road, as this is a ticket in itself and quite scary. While you can always call AAA when this occurs, it is best not to let it get to this point. From the specifics of the ADA to indispensable tips on getting gas for your car, read on for gassing-up advice when you’re paralyzed.

New Jersey and Oregon Already Got It Made

Considering there are over 159,000 gas stations nationwide, thousands of these exist in Oregon and New Jersey, which may come as a surprise that they are the only two states left in the country that still deem pumping your own gas illegal. These laws were passed well over 65+ years ago when Uncle Sam still looked at pumping your own gas as a dangerous affair. Back when these laws were passed, with New Jersey in 1949 and Oregon's law in 1951, pumps were much more dangerous, with injuries occurring often at pumps.

While most states in the country have gotten rid of laws like this, Oregon and New Jersey have retained this law (Oregon loosened the law in early 2018), which is a great boon to drivers with disabilities, or anyone who doesn’t want to get out of their car in the winter. The glory days of full-service gas stations are still alive and well in these two states, and it's a beautiful thing. In all likelihood, these laws will probably not be around much longer.

Search for Full-Service Gas Stations

Full serviceWhile there are no apps available that will help you find full-service gas stations, if you do a quick search for your state and “full service gas stations” you'll find at least a couple in your area that still provide full-service pumping. In Michigan, for example, they have a wonderful website called the Pump Guide where people can send in their full-service gas stations submissions and suggestions. If you cannot find any information online, it is never a bad idea to ask around at gas stations in your area. Hopefully, the right gas station will point you in the right direction. Full-service gas stations still exist, they are just rare.

Try On-Demand Gas Apps

There are several exciting on-demand gas services popping up and one of these is called Filld. It is quite a novel idea. Essentially what you can do is schedule when you want to get gas for your car, even in your own driveway. The gas service will bring gasoline directly to you via a delivery man in a gasoline truck and there is a small delivery fee for the service. To learn more, visit their site here: filld.com.

Call the Gas Station Attendant for Help

If there is a gas station in your neighborhood that you frequent, save the number to your phone so you can call into the station and request help from the attendant. Here is the script that many people use:

“Hello! I am parked at pump number <insert number here> and I use a wheelchair. Can you please help me with my gas? Thank you so much!"

Hopefully, the gas station attendant will have no problem helping you and come right out. Sometimes there may be a wait if there is a line inside. The ADA requires in this situation that the gas station attendant must try their best to assist you if there's only one person working. However if there are two employees working at the time, then they are obligated to assist you.

Look for a “Help Me with my Gas” ButtonAccessible Button

Many gas stations have a blue wheelchair accessible button that you can press if you need assistance if you have a disability. The only problem with this button is that it is not in reach for many people from their vehicle. They still need to get out of their car to press the button. which doesn't make much sense if you can just call into the station from your phone. This is handy if you do not have a phone on-hand. These blue buttons are becoming rarer, so do try to make sure you have a phone on you whenever you drive if possible.

Recruit Help from Family & Caregivers

caregiver

If you plan it right, you can get help from a family member, a friend or a caregiver. This is an obvious solution, but it does require planning to make sure you do not end up alone without anyone to help you. When in doubt, always fill up your car up fully to ensure you do not need to visit the gas station often. And avoid any strangers helping you if you can help it.

Go Electric

tesla

Electric vehicles are on the rise from Tesla to the Prius, and they are the ultimate solution to getting gas as a wheelchair-user: No more gas! While no electric minivans are yet available, there are plans for Chrysler to release one, the Portal, in 2020.

What are your tricks for getting gas with a spinal cord injury?

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Topics: Advice & Tips, Accessibility & Adaptations

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