New Jersey: fear that unprofessional pumpers would blow themselves up

Self-Service Nation Ends at Garden State Gas Pumps


People in New Jersey pick their own strawberries. They chop down their own Christmas trees. They check themselves in at airports and check themselves out at supermarkets. Lately, a few New Jerseyans have been wondering whether it isn't about time they were allowed to pump their own gas.

Pumping your own gas is illegal in New Jersey. It has been for 61 years.


Bikram Gill and his partners have bought up 26 New Jersey stations. They don't fix cars; they sell cappuccino. Their burden is finding workers to push the buttons on their self-service pumps. "Any idiot can do it," says Mr. Gill.

If that category includes New Jersey drivers, Mr. Gill figures self-service would let him cut prices by eight cents a gallon.


In 1949, the year New Jersey banned them, America had 200 self-service gas stations. Thirteen other states had banned them, too. (Portsmouth, Va., banned attendants on roller skates.) The fear was that unprofessional pumpers would blow themselves up.


The state's Supreme Court, upholding the verdict in 1951, declared gasoline inherently "dangerous in use."

Comment: When it is below 20, I would gladly pay 8¢ a gallon to have a "professional" pump. Source of vintage age. For many when I wss back in H.S. ('63-67) pumping gas was a job.


  1. I would gladly pay more than 8 cents a gallon in the winter, especially if they washed the windows.

  2. I guess I'm the minority here - I wouldn't pay more to have someone else do it.

    Where I lived for the last 5 years, there was no such thing as a self-serve gas station (although they didn't wash windows - they only pumped gas). I didn't see it as much of a convenience.


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