Unaccompanied disabled motorists have long dreaded the petrol light. The sheer effort and time that goes into something that, to others, is very simple is a daunting aspect. Having a car is supposed to be a convenience, not a burden, and that’s what filling your car up with fuel at a petrol station can be. In petrol stations which are manned by several members of staff help is offered easily. Although, single manned petrol stations, which are ever increasing as a cost saving tool for businesses, help is rarely offered to the disabled motorist. Disabled drivers at petrol stations face increased difficulties with the introduction of self-service or single manned petrol stations.
Niall El-Assaad, a disabled driver who like many others struggles with the prospect of filling up, has created a new solution to solve many challenges disabled motorists face at petrol stations. Niall has created a system for disabled drivers to use which works through a mobile phone app called fuelService. The system has many features, as detailed below, to help disabled drivers easily refuel their cars.
The app assists the driver with many aspects of the fuelling experience. It can:
1) Find petrol stations nearby that can possibly fill up their car for them.
2) Contact the petrol station before they drive there and ask if they can help – so no wasted journeys
3) Tells the petrol station when they arrive – so no more beeping the horn and waving the blue badge about.
4) Lets the disabled driver rate and provide feedback on the service to help other drivers know where to go.
Petrol stations generally need to have at least two people working to be able to help. This is because they can’t leave the shop with no one in it to come and help.
The problem is that as a disabled driver you don’t know which petrol station has enough staff to help at different times of the day. So sometimes you will have to drive to a petrol station only to find out they can’t help.
The idea with the app is that you can ask a petrol station if they can help in the next 30 minutes. They can tell you if they can help quickly and either you go there, or move on to the next petrol station.
Getting attention at a petrol station is also a challenge if you can’t get out of the car. So this normally involves a mixture of beeping your horn and waving your blue badge about. If they can help you then they still can’t communicate it back to you very well.
So when you arrive you can now click a button on the app and it tells the petrol station you have arrived and the details of your car so they recognise you (car colour, model and registration number). The petrol station staff can also let you know how many minutes they will be, so you aren’t sat there for ages not knowing.
The petrol companies know there is a problem and want to provide good service, but they often don’t know if it’s working or not. So the app lets you review and give feedback so they can improve the service. Also it lets other disabled drivers know which petrol stations are best to go to.
Many petrol companies, disabled drivers and organisations have been approached about the app, and how it can help disabled drivers. Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) have also shown support in the system, and are willing to recommend the system for use by disabled motorists. The app has gained much success and will be piloted in Shell and Sainsbury’s petrol stations in the North West of England next month, and if successful will be rolled out across the UK.
“I need to get as many disabled drivers signed up and ready to go, so we can prove the solution works for both disabled drivers and petrol stations.
If it’s a success then I have commitment from them to roll out nationally, and hopefully will be able to get other fuel companies to take it up.”
Niall is looking for disabled drivers to get involved to make the system a reality by signing up for the pilot at www.fuelservice.org/pilot. There will an opportunity for those who sign up to give feedback, and to find out more information about when the system will go live.
The app system has been built as a not for profit solution and any excess money will be donated to Spinal Research charity. To find out more visit www.fuelservice.org.