State Senator Wants To Ban Mobile Phones At The Pump Thanks To Urban Legend

from the good-legislative-policy dept

It’s never a good sign when you’re legislating based on urban legends. While plenty of people have been fooled in the past, there is no evidence that using a mobile phone at a gas station puts you at any risk of causing an explosion. However, that’s not stopping one state senator in Connecticut from proposing a law banning mobile phone use at the pump, claiming that “it is a known, documented fact that using a cell phone in proximity of the gas pump can cause an electrical charge that can cause a fire that can ignite the pump.” Of course, even many of the rumors of mobile phones creating explosions at gas pumps say it’s not the use of the phones at the pump anyway, but the phone ringing. If that’s the case, wouldn’t you actually be safer if you kept using the phone at the pump — since it would prevent the phone from ringing?

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Comments on “State Senator Wants To Ban Mobile Phones At The Pump Thanks To Urban Legend”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Don't they watch Mythbusters?

The guys on Mythbusters tried and tried and tried to ignite an enclosed space filled with gasoline vapors at all different concentrations and were completely unable to get it to go boom.

They were, however, able to ignite it on a pretty reliable basis via static electricity discharges – which is why you see signs now telling you not to re-enter the vehicle while pumping.

We need to implement a new federal policy that states in no uncertain terms, that if you try to implement a law based on heresay, urban legends or “well documented facts” (where “well documented” means it’s been written about in the National Enquirer) then you lose the ability to ever submit a new bill again.

At least do a tiny bit of due diligence first… geesh…

dorpus says:

Ban dairy products

In 1994, 3.4 million Americans in 40 states fell victim to poisoned ice cream. As a food, dairy products are the biggest killer of Americans.

An article in the current issue of Pediatrics has also concluded that, contrary to popular belief, milk alone does not create stronger bones; only exercise does.

Steven L says:

Banning on facts...

Well, this problem is as bad as the dihydrogen oxide problem… and it’s everywhere!

It’s well known that dihydrogen oxide:

# Causes excessive sweating and vomiting
# A major component of acid rain
# Can cause severe burns in the gaseous state
# Accidental inhalation can kill you
# Primary contributor to erosion
# Decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
# Has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients
# May dissolve metal ions especially in the presence of road salt

Oh, if you’re looking to ban this chemical, it’s also known as _water_.


sly squirrel says:

Re: Banning on facts...

same reactions to potassium chloride and sodium chloride in chemical spills have actually happened. I have a friend in the chemical business that had the local FD go nuts over the equivalent of STP (not the product!) many years ago. thought it was carmel or food product and tasted it even as the people at the company were yelling at him not to.

tank explosion occurred because when you pump this stuff you do so with heat, and the truck driver didn’t follow procedures about purging water before initiating the pumping operation. result, was this chemical (not STP product I emphasize) was running all over…

Greg says:

while they're at it...

The following items also generate EMR, static discharge / arcing, or both, at service stations:
Fluorescent lights, and their starters
Engines with spark plugs
Starter motors
Air conditioner motors
Refrigerator motors (anyone selling ice from an outdoor cooler – pretty common)
Certain fabrics (hence the getting out of the car problem)

Arguably these all are greater risks than mobile phones. Perhaps they should ban refrigerators, lights, and cars?

butcher99 says:

Re: while they're at it...

It makes as much sense as the banning of cigarette smoking at gas pumps. A burning cigarette will not ignite gasoline. Try it. Get a can of gas and throw a lit cigarette in it. Nothing happens. HOWEVER, light that cigarette as you are filling the tank and boom.. A cigarette burns at about 700 f. and gasoline ignites at a much higher temperature.
Maybe it is the same with the phone ringing?
Although the explosions have happened they happened usually when someone would get back in the car to talk on the phone and then got out again. Static electricity was the culprit, not the phone.

Chris Wuestefeld says:

Bad science causing bad policy

This is a bigger issue than it first looks like. Author / tv producer / move producer Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain, E.R.) has done several lectures about this. At least one is posted on the web:

Aliens Cause Global Warming

A lecture by Michael Crichton

Caltech Michelin Lecture

January 17, 2003

My topic today sounds humorous but unfortunately I am serious. I am going to argue that extraterrestrials lie behind global warming. Or to speak more precisely, I will argue that a belief in extraterrestrials has paved the way, in a progression of steps, to a belief in global warming. Charting this progression of belief will be my task today.

Read the complete Caltech Michelin Lecture:

sly squirrel says:

Re: No Subject Given



on topic mythbusters will be repeated:

from url:

discovery channel eastern time

MythBusters: Cell Phone/Gas Station Explosion
Sat, Mar 19, 2005 at 8:00 PM (ET)
Sun, Mar 20, 2005 at 4:00 PM (ET)
Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 8:00 PM (ET)
Tue, Mar 22, 2005 at 2:00 AM (ET)
Tue, Mar 22, 2005 at 1:00 PM (ET)

myth busters discover site

Episode 2 season 1

Go Jamie and Adam.

Favorite episode so far is the cement mixer detonation. Way to go guys!

Manny Cortez says:

The prohibition of use of cellphone at gas station

As a trainor for the HR for the gas station, I have been witness to the mockery of customers who find the ruling that cellphones do cause fire when used at very close proximity to the pump. It hard to explain to them that it will ignite, while I myself can’t see it happening. Now after having seen the Adam and Jamie, it made a believer out of me. I say that it’s all absurd and only grandstanding for attention. Don’t believe in heresay. “You should be “BUSTED” from your place.

JJ jJR says:

Ban the mobile phone at pump.

One lady commented on the ban the boom mobile registration,
The fattest, The Ugliest, The Dumbest, the ones with nothing
going for themselves are the greatest violators.

It seems like her descriptive from my observation, can also be applied to the Cell Phone! I watched a woman fitting this description, wheel into Krogers at high speed, wheel into a tight parking spot at high speed, spring out of the car and go in the store. All while on the phone, All while being Fat and Ugly.

I said what the h^ll do they find to talk about on that Cell all the time?

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