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Pinellas law approved to give the disabled help refueling their cars

Starting in November, it will be a little easier for people who are disabled to get help refueling their cars at gas stations and convenience stores.

That's when an ordinance approved recently by the Pinellas County Commission is scheduled to take effect.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act already requires gas stations with two or more employees on duty to help with refueling if people with disabilities honk or signal that they need assistance.

But advocates for the disabled say honking and signaling can attract negative attention and stigmatize the handicapped, it doesn't always work, and disabled people can end up having to make their way into the establishment to get help or drive away.

And the county found it couldn't easily enforce the federal law.

The new ordinance aims to make things work better for both the disabled and the county.

It requires gas stations to post their phone number on the gas pumps, so handicapped drivers can use their cell phones to call inside for assistance.

Hillsborough and Pasco counties already have that provision.

Signs on the gas pumps also must state that if disabled motorists think they are improperly denied help with refueling, they can contact the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights to file a complaint that will be investigated.

Gas stations with more than one attendant on duty must provide the requested assistance to the driver of any vehicle displaying a handicap parking permit or license plate.

Disabled residents, their advocates and gas retailing representatives gave input on the requirements of the county law.

The new ordinance will take effect Nov. 19.

Pinellas law approved to give the disabled help refueling their cars 09/13/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 13, 2012 8:05pm]

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