Why Can’t You Pump Your Own Gas in Oregon?

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Since the early 1900s, the United States has experimented with self-service gasoline at petrol stations. The process took its sweet time and became standard practice in the 1980s all over the United States except for two states.

Oregon is one of the only two states that is prohibiting its residents from pumping their own gas. The reason for this ban lies largely in public safety concerns – specifically, the fear that people will not be able to properly pump gas if they are also in the driver’s seat, which can cause mishaps.

What is the History Behind This Prohibition?

Oregon’s ban on self-service gas pumps was created back in 1951, majorly stated to provide medium-scale job opportunities in the state, but it was also due to safety concerns.

In the 1950s, the requirement made sense when Oregon first passed the legislation requiring gas station attendants. The state was concerned about people with no training handling potentially volatile liquids that can cause a fire if not used carefully.

The Oregon law insisted on maintaining the ban for a long time because, according to the government, it is in the public’s best interests. Removal of this law poses an inconvenience to elderly and disabled drivers. In the long run, it will also result in gas station employee job losses.

There was a time when many states had similar rules. However, a lot of development has happened since then. Gas stations and pumps are far more secure now with automatic shutoffs, safety features, and advanced technologies to support all kinds of customers.

Recent Affairs

An official poll conducted in the year 2014 found that Oregon residents were almost evenly divided on the subject of self-service, with 44% in favor and 46% against.

What caused the hesitation in the locals? One explanation is that people feel more comfortable with the traditional system. Those who favor mandatory station attendants have said that it’s more convenient and makes you feel luxurious, not having to leave your car when pumping gas. Years of hearing the statements about protection against exposure to harmful fumes and potential accidents left a deep impression in the minds of the residents.

But to everyone’s surprise, in the year 2018, a new wave of change finally struck the citizens of Oregon when the government announced that the residents living in rural areas with populations under 40,000 were given the option to pump their own gas.

The temporary order lifted the ban statewide in March 2020 for two weeks while the country dealt with the pandemic’s beginning. People who hadn’t used a fuel nozzle in a while were either confused about the process or frustrated for having to do it themselves. An attempt to expand the ban failed miserably in 2019.

House Bill 3194 proposed that stations could designate up to a quarter of their fuel pumps for self-service. However, the bill itself couldn’t get the primary clearance.

Why is Self Pumping Gas Station Banned in Oregon?

The simple and much-stated answer to this question is that it is a public safety measure. However, there are some other major factors involved as well, such as:

1. Exposure to Harmful Fumes

Gasoline vapor can be harmful if inhaled, and people who are not used to working with it may not know how to protect themselves properly. Although, there is the danger of exposure to harmful fumes only if the visits are frequent.

2. Possibility of Spills and Fires

Another danger is the possibility of spills and fires. If the vehicle owners spill gas on the ground, there is a high chance that one or the other factor can ignite it and cause a fire that could spread quickly. If someone is not careful when pumping gas, they could easily spill it on themselves or their car.

3. Employment Opportunities

One big reason for the ban is that it may result in gas station employees losing their job. If people are allowed to pump the gas on their own, then there will be less need for employees at gas stations. It could lead to layoffs and unemployment, which might become a major problem for Oregon’s economy.

4. Full-Service Stations Have Additional Facilities

In addition to the regular work, full-service gas stations often have additional facilities, such as oil & battery checks, vehicle repairing, windshield cleaning, restrooms, coffee shops, and more, that self-service stations do not have. This makes them more convenient for customers and more likely to draw in business.

5. Increases Road Rage

Another reason why there is a ban on self-pumping in Oregon is that it increases road rage. When people manually fill the gas in their vehicles, they often take longer than those who have someone do it for them. It can lead to frustrated drivers honking their horns or even getting into arguments with the people pumping gas.

Why Lifting the Ban on Self Pumping Gas Stations can be Beneficial?

There are also some benefits to lifting the ban on self-pumping gas stations.

1. Cost Effective for Pump Owners

Self-service can be cost-effective for pump owners. If people are allowed to pump their own gas, then gas station owners will not have to pay employees to do it. It can save them tons of money, which they can then pass on to customers in the form of offers and added services.

2. Customers Can Save Time

Customers can save time. If you don’t have to wait for someone to fill your tank, you can get in and out of the station much faster. It is especially beneficial for people in a hurry.

3. Lower Gas Prices

Lifting the ban on self-pumping gas stations could lead to lower gas prices. If station owners don’t have to pay employees to pump gas, they may be able to lower their prices. This would be a major benefit for Oregon residents, who often have to travel long distances.

4. No Continuous Contact

Gas station employees are in danger of gasoline vapor exposure due to constant contact with the toxic fumes from the fuel. This can cause a number of health problems, including respiratory issues, skin irritation, and even cancer. In comparison, the risk is much less for people who visit the place once in a while.

Bottom Line

Oregon has had a long history of banning self-service gas stations, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. While there are some benefits to lifting the ban, it seems that the state is content with keeping things the way they are.

There are pros and cons to lifting the ban on self-pumping gas stations in Oregon. It is important to weigh all of the factors. Ultimately, the decision should be based on facts and what is best for the state as a whole.

What do you think? Should Oregon lift the ban on self-service gas stations? Let us know in the comments!

Read More

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Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.


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