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"New Jerseyans Are More Flammable than People in the Other 49 States"



(p. A17) At 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, New Jersey became the last state in the nation where drivers are not allowed to pump their own gasoline around the clock.


. . .


It is a distinction that makes Declan J. O'Scanlon Jr., a state lawmaker, spout frustration by the gallon.

"It's ridiculous," said Mr. O'Scanlon, a Republican assemblyman from Monmouth County who will soon take a seat in the State Senate. "If I want to pull in, get in and out quickly, I should be able to do so."

Mr. O'Scanlon said that he frequently pumps his own gas, ignoring the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act of 1949, the statute that first forbade civilians from putting their grubby hands on the nozzle.


. . .


New Jersey legislators cited safety concerns when they passed the original law that barred residents from pumping gas almost 70 years ago. But when gas station owners challenged the ban in 1951, the state's Supreme Court ruled that self-serve was indeed "dangerous in use." And the ban held up, despite attempts to fight it in the 1980s.

In the rest of the country, self-service stations became the norm. Safer unleaded gasoline became more common, thanks to federal regulations, as did pumps that accepted credit cards. In most of the United States, that spelled the end of an era when attendants offered to wipe your windshield and check your oil while the tank filled up and you fumbled for a tip.

Mr. O'Scanlon is undeterred by the dual weights of history and public opinion. He said that he may bring a new proposal this year, just to keep the conversation alive. He said that economic arguments about jobs and safety are absurd, given that drivers in other states have been pumping their own gas for decades and lived to tell the tale.

"The only thing you could argue is that New Jerseyans are more flammable than people in the other 49 states," he said. "Because we eat so much oily pizza, funnel cake and fries, maybe you could make that argument. Otherwise, it's simply ridiculous."



For the full story, see:

JONAH ENGEL BROMWICH. "New Jersey Is Last State to Insist at Gas Stations: Don't Touch That Pump." The New York Times (Sat., JAN. 6, 2018): A17.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date JAN. 5, 2018.)






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