Disabled Drivers Raise Awareness For Refuel Assistance - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Disabled Drivers Raise Awareness For Refuel Assistance

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It's something most of us take for granted or don't even think twice about: filling a tank of gas at the pump.

But for many disabled drivers, it's dangerous or even impossible for them to do that on their own.

New legislation is pushing for more accessible ways for handicapped people to get assistance when they're at the gas pump.

It takes Mitchell Swanson seven minutes to get in and out of his car and doing something as simple as filling up, is not an easy task.

"It's not just me, it's wounded veterans a lot of disabled individuals trying to go to work, trying to do family activities and we need gasoline like everyone else," said local disability advocate Mitchell Swanson.

Swanson was in a car accident 24 years ago. He now uses a wheelchair and has lost the ability to use his hands.

He said the current system of honking or flashing your lights to get help at the pump, hardly ever works.

"They can't hear you inside the store and they don't know why you're honking to begin with," said Swanson.

Even call buttons on the pump aren't helpful.

"A lot of us drivers don't have the finger dexterity in order to push a small button and a lot of times they're way to high for us to reach from our wheelchair," said Swanson.

He said drive-up, accessible call buttons are a simple solution. You can press them with the palm of your hand and it alerts attendants inside the store.

But, very few gas stations have them.

"It's difficult enough for people with disabilities to do most things in a daily basis," said local disability advocate Gary McDermott. "They have adaptive equipment so we can drive, but never anything adaptive for refueling."

All Hy-Vee gas stations have an refuel call button, something this woman said she's thankful for.

"I had a hard time even getting to the car, because I'm not sure my legs are going to hold me up," said Mary Junkin.

One push and someone's there to help her.

"We're more than happy to help them," said store manager at the Moline Hy-Vee Fuel Center Nancy Tingley. "That's our job. I enjoy it, I've been doing this for a long time."

The new legislation that was revealed today is meant to help handicapped people fill up at the pump with the same ease and security as able-bodied drivers.

It's called the" Refueling Assistance Act."

Legislators said the next steps are to build support for the cause and complete a study to see what gas station owners, across the country, think would be the best solutions.

"That they can get help wherever they go in whatever state they drive through, that they can take a vacation and they can go to Iowa or they can go to Kentucky or Wisconsin or Indiana or across the country and they can know wherever they stop they're going to be able to get help," said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos.

To find gas stations that specifically have refuel assistance, click here

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