It is nearly impossible to drive down a major New Jersey road without seeing a bumper sticker that states in bold letters “JERSEY GIRLS DON’T PUMP GAS.” New Jersey natives wear this logo proudly like a badge. There are t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, sweatpants, towels, signs and I would not be surprised if a few people had a tattoo of the popular saying, too. New Jersey is the last state in the United States to have a total ban on self-service gas stations, despite critics attempting to change legislation.
In 1949, New Jersey passed a law banning self-serviced gasoline stations. New Jersey Legislation banned self-serviced stations due to possible health risks. A possible risk, according to the legislation is “fire hazards." The technology back in the 1940's was not as stable as it is today, resulting in more consumer accidents. Not having to pump one’s gas is now considered a luxury in New Jersey – a luxury that many are not willing to give up.
In mid-2015 the conversation of whether or not to go to self-service gas was brought up again. Legislation says that now there is little to no risk of pumping your own gas, therefore the ban should be lifted. However, I disagree – not just because I have no idea how to pump gas.
Having serviced gas stations is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both consumers and employees. For most consumers, there is the luxury of not having to leave one’s car. However, a more important factor is how those with disabilities are able to be serviced as well. Serviced gasoline makes it easier for those with physical disabilities. For example, wheelchair users would be largely disadvantaged at a self-service gas station. Just attempting to get out of the vehicle would take a while, especially if the driver is alone. The dangers of attempting to leave one’s car in such a congested area are very high, especially because of the other cars driving around. The disabled consumer is at too much of a risk to be seriously injured or worse.
Another bonus of serviced gas stations is the safety of one’s vehicle and their belongings. When being served, the consumer gets to stay inside the car with their stuff. For self-service gas stations, it is common practice to leave the doors unlocked and everything still in the car while filling up the tank. However, this allows for thieves to easily break in and steal the owner’s possessions. There are thieves – nicknamed as “sliders” – who steal women’s purses by opening the passenger door while the woman is pumping or paying for gas.
More brazen thieves will even attempt to steal the car itself. Fox59 coverered a story of two men having their cars stolen, Matthew Hall’s on Jan. 11 of this year and David Gaines’ on Jan. 12. Both men reportedly left their cars running at the pumps while going into the store briefly. While gone, the thieves stole their cars. These incidents were at self-serviced gas stations, where most times consumers are required to go into the store itself to pay for gas.
For those who live in New Jersey, being a gas station attendant is a good starting job. Also, being a gas station attendant gives those without a college education and immigrant workers a chance to have a good job with benefits. According to an employment website called Payscale, 1 in 5 gas station attendants are given medical benefits and 1 in 7 are given dental. In 2011 it was reported that there were 3,378 gas stations in New Jersey alone. If New Jersey legislation were to take away serviced gas stations, it’d be detrimental to the job market. Thousands of jobs would be taken away, leaving many with nowhere to turn.
The benefits of having serviced gas stations outweigh any critics’ arguments. Taking away serviced gas stations does not only mean Jerseyans have to learn how to pump their own gas. It means that thousands of jobs will be lost, the disabled/handicapped are at a horrible disadvantage and people’s belongings/vehicles are being put at risk. Besides, what would we do with all of the “JERSEY GIRLS DON’T PUMP GAS” merchandise?