Only One State Left Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas

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New Jersey is the only state where it is illegal to fill up your own tank.

Oregon lifted its ban on self-service gas stations last week, allowing half of the pumps to be operated as self-serve. Oregon’s new law was signed by Democratic Governor Kate Brown on Friday. Tina Kotek was elected despite the opposition of 800 station workers.

Oregon has made New Jersey the only state where drivers cannot touch the gas pumps. New Jersey gas station owners can fine drivers up to $500 if they are caught touching the pump.

New Jersey’s gas station industry has renewed its efforts to lift the ban due to its struggles to hire employees. Bills to ban self-service appear every time gas prices spike.

New Jersey’s ban on self-service, as well as the reputation of the state for having lower gas prices than other states, are part of its culture. A popular bumper sticker proclaims “Jersey Girls don’t pump gas.”

It is unlikely that the state will change its ban on self-service anytime soon.

Gas stations with attendants who filled up the drivers’ tanks were the most common way to fill a car. Gas stations made money by providing a range of services, such as battery and oil checks, windshield cleaning, and vehicle repairs.

Historians claim that full-service petrol station owners believed cheaper self-service stations, which were starting to spread, would undercut their prices, and they wanted to block these.

Full-service stations emphasized the safety risks of self-service by claiming that untrained drivers could overfill their tanks, which would cause a fire. Gas stations, with the help of local fire marshals and state legislators, lobbied to ban self-service. In 1968, 23 states banned the practice of putting gas in your car.

New Jersey law states that “because of the fire risks directly associated with fuel dispensing, it is in the public interest for gasoline station operators to have the necessary control over this activity.”

In the 1980s, gas station owners started to change their stance on self-service as they began losing their grip on the auto repair and service market.

Self-service was seen as a way to reduce labor costs while increasing fuel sales. Gas stations also sold food, tobacco products, coffee, snacks, and other items that had higher profit margins.

Operators began to push states to lift their bans on self-service. In 1992, 80% of gas stations in the United States were self-service. This was up from 8% just two decades earlier.

New Jersey, Oregon, and a few other states have never lifted their bans on self-service, despite numerous legislative attempts, legal challenges, and opposition by gas station owners and industry.

New Jersey’s gas station industry has renewed its efforts to lift the ban due to its struggles to hire employees. Bills to ban self-service appear every time gas prices spike.

Politicians have also viewed the attempt to reverse the ban as a losing proposition.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said last year that “self-service gas” was a sort of political third rail.

Monmouth University’s poll conducted last year found that 60% of New Jerseyers oppose a self-service policy at stations. New Jersey residents are 55 percent in favor of New Jersey remaining the only state to not allow self-service.

Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that many New Jerseyans take pride in being the only state to offer full service.