Running on Empty: Gas Stations & Accessibility

We all know that just because a business says it’s accessible doesn’t mean it always is. One of the biggest perpetrators of this? Gas stations. 

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) has teamed up with the United Spinal Association and the Disability Gas Coalition to change that. The two organizations are advocating for refueling assistance at the pump for people living with disabilities. They just released a video interview with Rep. Duckworth, who is a double amputee and wheelchair user, about her experiences at the gas station.

In the video, she explains how she must park pretty far from the pump in order to use her ramp — so far, in fact, that she then can’t reach the gas tank. She also explains some of the dangers associated with the process, noting her ramp has been hit by other cars. On several occasions, she has had to resort to honking the horn or flashing lights in loud and crowded gas stations just to get assistance.

Here’s the crazy thing: the Americans with Disabilities Act already requires refueling assistance at the pumps when there is more than one employee on duty — but it rarely happens. The issue is that gas stations are often uninformed about this requirement and fail to provide refueling assistance for drivers with disabilities at the pump. The result? A major loss of independence.

“We must do better,” says Rep. Duckworth. “The ability to drive independently is key to the American lifestyle. Ensuring that disabled Americans can consistently and safely refuel their vehicles is critical to their ability to live independent and fulfilling lives.”

Click here to watch the video interview with Rep. Duckworth. You can also get involved! The Disability Gas Coalition is asking individuals to tweet gas station accessibility issues and tag @disabilitygasco. You can also join the Disability Gas Coalition Facebook group and share photos of ineffective signage or videos that document the struggle to get gas.

We want to hear from you! Have you had any struggles at the pump? Any gas stations in Philadelphia and South Jersey you recommend? Any that wheelchair users should avoid?

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