While certain gas stations have historically warned consumers about the risks of using mobile phones in close proximity to the pump, recent research shows no close ties between their use and explosions or fires while pumping fuel. We anticipate further research by NACS and PCATS in this area (in conjunction with the network providers and phone manufacturers), but there is some interesting research available and regulations in place countering this age-old warning.
1. The FCC has stated that they have been unable to establish a dangerous link between wireless phones and fuel vapors: FCC Consumer Advisory: Wireless Phones at Gas Stations
2. NACS published an article in 2011 called “Gasoline Myths… and Facts” discussing this exact topic, which includes research by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and the American Petroleum Institute. NACS concludes that the risks associated with mobile phones at the pump are unfounded.
3. In PEI’s Stop Static Campaign, they reviewed the impact of static discharge with fires at the pump, and found no correlation between cell phones fire or explosions at the pump.
4. Two states (Texas and Pennsylvania) have recently shifted their weights and measures regulations to include QR codes on fuel dispensers. These QR codes will allow customers to scan the code using their mobile phone to get the latest information on when the dispenser was last calibrated, and endorse the usage of mobile phones at the pump.
5. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from Discovery Channel’s MythBusters released their own take on debunking the myth in “Cell Phone Gas Station MiniMyth”:
- Executive Vice President & General Counsel at PEI, Robert Renkes, is quoted as saying “Pure and simple, we don’t have [any record of] any accidents involving a cell phone at a service station. It just doesn’t happen”
- Adam and Jamie conclude by saying “This myth is definitely busted. No cell phone is ever going to cause a gas station to ignite. Just not going to happen.”
While we know of no stated regulations against using mobile phones at the pump, there is consumer education and standards-body safety messaging work to do. In the mean-time, we are excited to provide our valued convenience store and retail petroleum customers a new way to let their consumers pay for fuel and items from inside their convenience stores.
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