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?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, Mar 9th, 2005 @ 1:37pm

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, Mar 9th, 2005 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Don't they watch Mythbusters?

    First paragraph should have said "unable to get it to go boom with a cellphone ringing"... my bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    dorpus, Mar 9th, 2005 @ 2:34pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Steven L, Mar 9th, 2005 @ 2:49pm

    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_.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    anonymous, Mar 9th, 2005 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Ban dairy products wasn't the dairy, it was the eggs that accidentally got mixed in with the ice cream because they didn't clean the trucks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Greg, Mar 9th, 2005 @ 3:55pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    butcher99, Mar 9th, 2005 @ 5:25pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Somebody's got to suggest it, Mar 9th, 2005 @ 8:07pm

    Re: while they're at it...

    That's it! Let's ban fabric at gas pumps!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Billy J. West Jr., Mar 10th, 2005 @ 1:29am

    Re: while they're at it...

    True, a lit cigarette won't cause an explosion, but if you allow smoking at the pump, some dumb ass will light up while fueling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Chris Wuestefeld, Mar 10th, 2005 @ 8:16am

    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:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Nigel Pond, Mar 10th, 2005 @ 8:40am

    No Subject Given

    Didn't the Mythbusters crap on this urban legend in one of their first shows?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    sly squirrel, Mar 10th, 2005 @ 11:21am

    Re: Don't they watch Mythbusters?

    the senators show no signs of watching anything. they all are idiots, witness "issues" with patents, copyrights and such and the incredible response to that.

    name one senator that has a clue at all that you have heard, or representative for that matter.

    zip, nada, none

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    sly squirrel, Mar 10th, 2005 @ 11:25am

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    sly squirrel, Mar 10th, 2005 @ 11:31am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2005 @ 12:39am

    Re: while they're at it...

    Isn't this why it is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon?

    Another boneheaded politician legislating to the lowest common denominator… Seriously, if you are lighting a cigarette while pumping gas, and you blow your hillbilly ass up… isn’t that just natural selection at work?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Manny Cortez, Oct 23rd, 2005 @ 3:22pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    online directory main, Apr 27th, 2006 @ 5:20pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2008 @ 6:26pm

    Ban the mobile phone at the pump.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    JJ jJR, May 29th, 2008 @ 6:53pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Advertisement - Amazon Prime Music
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.