Reliable transportation is an important part of everyday life, yet for 24.6 million American adults with disabilities, transportation can be anything but reliable.
70% of Americans with disabilities actually reduce their daily travel because of their disability. Partially due to this lack of travel, people with disabilities are less likely to work full-time jobs, leave their homes less frequently, and are more dependent on others to get where they want to go.
Driving personal vehicles can be liberating, especially in places where public transportation is either unreliable or nonexistent. The freedom of going somewhere independently can open up new opportunities that can help uplift the overall community.
But even if they do have their own means of getting around, driving as a person with a disability can come with challenges, like expenses for adaptive vehicles, driving lessons that specialize in specific disabilities, and internalized negative feelings about driving in the first place.
These challenges don’t stop once a driver with a disability is on the road. Dealing with infrastructure, like gas stations, that was not designed for people with disabilities can be frustrating and time-consuming.
Although there are laws in place that designate help for people with disabilities at gas stations, their honorable intent doesn’t always find its way to practical application. There are many reasons for this, but frankly, these laws are often simply ignored or inapplicable as many gas stations lack the staffing and infrastructure to accommodate folks who need a helping hand at the pump.
“The fact that I can’t get gas in my car is the main reason–the only reason–why I haven’t bothered to get my driver’s license yet. I’ve never had luck at a location when I was with somebody who had a disability,” says Jennifer Kumiyama, a resident of Long Beach. “And when we did have luck, we were there for more than 30 minutes just waiting to get gas in the vehicle.”
At Booster, we believe there is a way to help alleviate the fueling burden for drivers with disabilities. That’s why we are a part of Californians for Smart Fueling, a coalition led by people with disabilities and non-profit organizations to advocate for laws that allow for accessible, equitable mobile fueling to grow in California.
“We are doing this [advocating for mobile fueling] for the disabled people who need it now, but also for the many people that will become disabled at any time in their life,” says Anastasia Somoza, international disability rights speaker and advocate.
As the leading mobile energy delivery service in America, we have the ability to help bring some independence to Californians with disabilities by delivering fuel directly to their tanks, removing the gas station from the fueling equation altogether. Although our service is available in hundreds of cities, current legislation is stunting our growth.
One force we can rely on to open a more universal world of accessibility is strength in numbers: we need more people on our side to speak up to change the law and create a more accessible future.
This year, an assembly bill (AB 2563) was introduced to the California legislature that would allow for mobile fueling services to grow throughout the state. The passage of this bill would be a huge step toward making driving more accessible for people with disabilities.
If you are a legislator, you could get involved by co-sponsoring the bill. If you work for a legislator, encourage them to do so. If you care about this issue, become an advocate and work with us to build a future worthy of our values and not our inaction.
Together, we can ensure that our state presents opportunities for every Californian to thrive.