Getting your Fill from Fuel Stations by Kate Stanforth
My wheelchair accessible vehicle has given me an incredible amount of independence, but like many disabled drivers, fuelling my car is one of the biggest challenges I face.
Even though I’m an ambulatory wheelchair user, I find getting in and out of the driver’s seat difficult and making my way to the fuel pump alone can be risky with my balance issues. On occasion I’ve asked my parents or carer to help because of the problems I’ve previously encountered filling up by myself, like being unable to attract the attention of staff and having upsetting comments made.
I’ve put together a list of handy tips, which I’ve rated out of five, I hope will make the experience better.
Hazards on and display Blue Badge.
A very embarrassing eight minutes of my life where I blocked a whole fuelling lane. Eventually, help did arrive and a staff member fuelled my car for me as well as taking my cash payment to the desk. I did have that awkward ‘I’m disabled’ talk as the garage mistakenly thought I had broken down. This is my least favourite method because it draws so much attention to your vehicle (and yourself!) and in my experience the assistance is rarely prompt.
MyHailo is a personal key fob that you press on arrival at a participating MyHailo fuel station. It sends a signal to a staff member for assistance. Your fob will flash red until your call has been received and thereafter will turn green. A staff member will fuel your vehicle and take your payment. I feel it’s a more dignified approach of asking for support. The fob costs £19.95in the UK, but for me personally, it wasn’t worth it as the stations that use this system were few and far between, but it might be worthwhile for others.
fuelService is a free app that tells you if a fuel station has assistance available before you arrive to fill up your tank. A huge array of stations have signed up with this app, which not only allows you to ask for help on arrival, but can send a request for help before you’ve started your travels, ensuring there are no wasted journeys. Once you arrive at the fuel station,you activate the app to let the garage know which pump number you’re at. They’ll then fuel your car and take payment. For me this worked the best because I could plan in advance to see if the station had assistance available, let them know I had arrived and even track how long help would be.
Kate’s Top Tips
No cash? No problem! Contactless is fabulous these days so fuel under £30 and you can pay by card without giving your details. Don’t ever give away your pin number. Most stations don’t have extra staff between 10pm – 7am so try to fuel up during the day if possible.If you’re going to use a regular fuel station, consider going in and introducing yourself so they know you will need help. The station will get to know you and your car, so it will hopefully become a smoother and less anxiety-provoking process!