Florida: Providers, activists secure gas pumping bill

Friday, September 26, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida gas stations with two or more employees will soon be required to post their phone numbers on pumps so people with disabilities may call the station for assistance. 

Provider Bruce Bayes helped gather support for the bill.

“This is a real simple way to get help to people who need help,” said Bayes, CEO of Largo, Fla.-based Custom Mobility. “I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.”

The state legislature passed a bill in May making the phone numbers a requirement. Once signed by the governor and enacted into law, gas stations will have until July 2016 to comply.

The movement started with a point paper written by Ben Ritter, co-chair of the Tampa Mayor’s Alliance for Persons with Disabilities, which spurred a Hillsborough County, Fla., ordinance in 2011.

The phone numbers are an easy and inexpensive fix to a problem that’s a big hang up for disabled drivers who are unable to get out of their vehicles and pump gas, Ritter says.

“According to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you have two or more employees working during normal business hours, then that gas station is required to pump gas for qualified people with disabilities,” he said. “It doesn’t affect the mom-and-pops.”

The problem is that the ADA doesn’t specify how people with disabilities are to get the attention of the station attendant. With this law, disabled drivers can travel throughout Florida, knowing they can easily get service when they need it, Ritter says. 

“You can honk your horn, flash your lights, wave your parking permit,” he said. “History shows that doesn’t work.”

Bayes hopes to see the idea spread.

“The only wish I would have is that we would get ahold of a national organization to jump on the bandwagon and get this passed nationally,” he said.