FuelCall helps drivers with disabilities get gas

May 30, 2010 7:15:13 AM PDT
Approximately 15 million Americans are drivers with disabilities needing assistance at the gas pump.The biggest challenge for these drivers is finding service stations that have enough employees to help them fuel their vehicles.

The Americans With Disabilities Act requires refueling assistance to drivers with disabilities at self-service pumps when there are more than two employees on duty.

"They put a little sticker, which is a little silly to me because?it says to blow your horn. And often, I drive up and blow the horn and they look at me, but they don't know what I need or what I want," said Pascuela Herrara, who has been using a wheelchair most of her life.

Herrara has been driving a modified van for 20 years, and getting help at the gas stations has been frustrating.

" And it also says if there is one attendant, you know you don't get help," she said.

However, there are solutions. One is the FuelCall, a product by Inclusion-Solutions.

"The idea of our FuelCall button, the oversized button, is meant so that somebody is able to request assistance from their car inside the convenience store," said Inclusion-Solutions founder Patrick Hughes.

"It's completely wireless. Inside rings a tone and flashes a strobe, letting them know the customer needs assistance," he said. "It retails for $1,200 and pretty practical."

So far, 300 gas station throughout the country have it, including Northlake's Marathon station.

Manager Christina Fernandez says it was installed it three years ago.

"It's pretty good. I'm glad I can help people with disabilities because people come a lot. People that come outside of their car and pump the gas, they just call us and we just come outside and help them," said Fernandez.

Many driver don't just assist with refueling.

"They can ask for some groceries inside, and we come out with those things for them," said Fernandez. "Like milk, some drinks, snacks, whatever we provide in the store."

"A lot of times you go to a gas station and you just see the wheelchair symbol. There's a lot of stickers out there in the environment but it doesn't give the clarity as to when you can get these services," said Hughes.

Good news for Northlake's Marathon: they just got a new customer, Pascuela.

"I'm very excited. I just recently found out about it, and it's really close to my house so definitely it's worth the extra miles for me to come and get that assistance so I can be independent. I don't have to wait until someone's in the car with me," Herrara said.

For more information on the FuelCall gas station system, visit www.inclusionsolutions.com.


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