No Cell Phones While Pumping Gas

A Connecticut senator, Andrea Stillman, has introduced a bill into the state legislature to impose a $250 fine on anyone who uses a cell phone while pumping gas. She sees it as a public health issue. Here's her reasoning:

Stillman said there are already warnings pasted on gas pumps informing people that a cell phone in the proximity of a gas pump could cause an electrical charge that might ignite the pump. However, she said, there are no penalties.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that whole thing about cell phones making gas pumps blow up was just an urban legend. Engadget agrees, pointing out that "there’s no evidence that a cellphone has ever sparked a fire at a gas station."

Law/Police/Crime Urban Legends

Posted on Wed Mar 09, 2005


It has nothing to do with profits. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If the electronics were prone to that, just having the phone turned on in the car could cause that, since cell phones repeatedly ping for a signal tower. If that were an issue, you'd have to turn off your phone completely -- like in hospitals or airplanes.

Hospitals are becoming more open about that. My former wife keeps hers on her at work, though she doesn't take it to patient rooms. She leaves it at the station.
Posted by Bill B.  on  Fri Mar 11, 2005  at  10:19 AM
"Hospitals are becoming more open about that. My former wife keeps hers on her at work, though she doesn't take it to patient rooms. She leaves it at the station."

Out of politeness or as a safty measure?
Posted by Katey  on  Fri Mar 11, 2005  at  05:15 PM
Possible but unproven? - an academic view -;/docs/MobilePhoneA.pdf
Posted by midlandsea  on  Fri Mar 11, 2005  at  06:35 PM
Perhaps the proposal is not to prevent fires/explosions but rather to prevent careless people from spilling gasoline.
Posted by Jared  on  Sat Mar 12, 2005  at  02:46 PM
THis is acutaly true being that gas evaporates a a a very fast pace the fume could come in contack with the elsctricity in pagers or phones. this i why your supposed to turn the car totaly off when filling you tank up.
Posted by Evildream  on  Sun Mar 13, 2005  at  09:08 AM
I agree, and while we're at it, we should be allowed to smoke while pumping gas...


Posted by Laser Potato  on  Mon Mar 14, 2005  at  08:53 AM
Evildream, please learn how to type. From the little intelligible bits of that I have ascertained that you are infact a moron.

Also, I don't if anyone here is from Southeastern CT but the New London Day printed an article on this where they state:

"There are documented cases of people across the country who have become engulfed in flames at gas pumps because the sparks from static electricity ignited gas vapors while they were fueling their cars. That's why there are signs at gas pumps warning motorists of the danger. And it illustrates why using a cell phone, which could give off an electric discharge, and pumping gas, is not a good idea."

I heart fact checking. Mind you The Day didn't have too much credibility to begin with but this is just silly.
Posted by Nehllah  on  Mon Mar 14, 2005  at  11:41 AM
I just see a re-run on Mythbusters on this same myth. They proved it cant happen. Instead they said it is most likely caused by static from people (mostly women) going in and out of their cars during the gassing process.
Posted by Arlene  in  US  on  Tue Mar 15, 2005  at  12:16 PM
If you believe that cell phones can cause fires at gas stations then I guess you better look out for the boogyman.
Posted by Gary  in  Bath,Maine  on  Sun Apr 03, 2005  at  12:32 PM
The Petroleum Equipment Institute, the organization representing makers of gas pumps, and the American Petroleum Institute, both state that the cause of fires at gas stations is static electricity and NOT cell phones. The PEI investigated hundreds of reports of fires at gas pumps and none of them were caused by cell phones.
Posted by wcmcca  on  Sat Jul 09, 2005  at  09:18 AM
What if the woman is getting in and out of her SUV while pumping gas and talking on her cell phone like I saw the other day. Does this double or triple the risk factor?
Posted by steve  in  mpls  on  Mon Oct 03, 2005  at  11:45 AM
I work at a gas station and I have seen tons of people talking on cell phones, leaving their cars on and sometimes yes even smoking. Nothing has happened and I have not heard of anything happening in the past. We are a very busy gas station and get TONS of very stupid people so if this stuff is actually true then for some reason my store has been axceptionally lucky...
Posted by Rebecca  in  Michigan  on  Mon Jan 02, 2006  at  05:46 PM
Hey on myth busters they did that cell phone test many time not a single spark they even did it with out the cell phone case with the circut board exposed
Posted by johnny  in  texas  on  Thu Jul 27, 2006  at  10:32 PM
So does that mean that this article is just a hoax too?

And is it really such a big deal to just turn off your phone before pumping gas?
Posted by Jenniffer  in  Texas  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  10:23 AM
Is it illegal to use cell a cell phone at a gas station pump in Michigan ???
Posted by Tom Barry  in  Michigan  on  Fri Nov 23, 2007  at  02:02 PM
There is no way in hell that anyone in their right mind would set off explosives with a radio signal, unless they wanted to whack someone.
Posted by grump  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  07:39 PM
tiker-tape, there is no way in hell that anyone in their right mind would set off explosives with a radio signal unless they were going to whack someone.
Posted by grump  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  07:43 PM
The main culprit is static discharge.

All this fear came about because of ignorance. Some years back a fire occurred when someone was fueling while using a cell phone. Since then people have thought it must be the cell phone, and like using cell phones on planes, they are trying to play it safe.

The fear is that the RF energy from the cell phone could energize the fuel nozzle. This is impossible, the cell phone would never provide enough energy to do it. If the cell phone was putting out enough energy for this to occur, you'd you'd be cooking. We're talking hundreds of watts of power.

You'll note that taxi drivers been never been advised
to switch off their radios which are many watts more powerful than a cell phone. The whole forecourt is
surrounded by RF signals. It's not the RF that causes spark, I can assure you of that.

Suggest you touch your car before fueling as you get out - thereby grounding it. This would prevent a possible spark when you put the fuel nozzle into the tank right next to the fuel vapour.
Posted by Matt  on  Sun Jan 13, 2008  at  02:08 PM
Don't forget about wireless credit card machines. Those are cellphones too. That kind of device should by ban too? And what about the gasoline dispenser, it has all kind of electr
Posted by Jonathan Makuc  in  Santiago, Chile  on  Tue Oct 14, 2008  at  02:45 AM
All i can say is every instance iv been told of for the cell phone causing a fire at a gas station was founded on the internet and in tabloids. Many bits of info on the internet for both sides of this argument have little or no facts or studys. There are only 2 cases where iv found cell phones being stated as the cause of a gas fire. Both have been disproven by experts in many different profesional fields. I personaly dont talk on my phone at many times in the day when some others feel its necessary. Such as driving, pumping gas, using the bath room. Its rediculous put the damn phone down for 5 min and see that ther are some things that you need full consetration for and that others dont want to here on the other end. Untill i find actual prof of this phenomenon, not just some posting on a web site sayin so, im not buyin it.
Posted by electrician  in  us  on  Tue Feb 10, 2009  at  06:38 AM
For the guy who said "MYTHBUSTERS is just a SHOW" .....
Its not just a show on any tv channel .... It holds credibility for the channel which is broadcasting it .
For the sake of clearing other doubts regarding their technical abilities .... yes by far they are competent engineers to pass on a judgement of their own .
Regarding the Main issue concerning the cell phone and Gas station ..... American fire safety organisation has carried out an extensive research and found the claim to be a "HOAX"
The whole urban legend of not using a cell phone in an explosive environment has resulted in people getting extra safe ..... just for the sake of trying to avoid even the slightest possibility ......
the whole purpose of all of us discussing over it is to churn the truth out ..... so kindly come of with some credible references to make ur point strong
Posted by khushalchand  in  Mumbai . India  on  Tue Aug 25, 2009  at  11:43 PM
to clear up Jennifer's post. here is the complete story.
Posted by Len  on  Sun Oct 17, 2010  at  06:35 PM
Actually, the Mythbusters did an episode about this. They tried EVERYTHING to set off an explosion with a cell phone. They didn't even get a small flame. I believe they had an arson expert with them that confirmed their findings.
Posted by Sifrona Cotton  in  Tennessee  on  Wed Dec 01, 2010  at  12:07 PM maybe some myths need to be "Busted". This subject doesn't fit the bill. There is truth to this argument. I work in a Chemical plant, where from day-to-day I am always around areas that are Short-on-Oxygen. Rule number One, when we or any of our contractors are entering these areas? No-Gadgets! No Cameras,Phones,not even a Cordless-Drill, unless they are intrinsically safe. These are under normal operating conditions. When the environment in-question can be made-safe. (you can google "Hot-Work-Permit"), allowances can be made at That time. The radios we carry throughout our plant fit this bill, made by iCom, and Motorola. There are Cellphones made that meet the requirements as well. I've recently been looking at one that is carried by Telus Normal Cell though? Forget it. And don't think for a moment that just because your Blackberrys' battery has been called "intrinsically safe", it means your phone is. There is still that connection between the phone and the Battery to contend with. When your pumping mass amounts of potentially Explosive chemicals into your area( for ex. Gasoline ?)-and then Activate a phone or other device that isn't shielded...well...You may have just as well-have lit a match! Either way you have just provided your Ignition-source. My Cellphone? Always stays behind,whether I'm in the plant-Or-at the Pump. Those of you that want to be "Mythbusters"? go Right-ahead and push your luck.Me on the other-hand? I'm pretty fond of my family...I'm staying right-Here.
Posted by Mike  in  Ontario, Canada  on  Wed May 04, 2011  at  09:19 AM
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