Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Driving and the A.D.A.

Two things you perhaps didn't know.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (and updated in 2008 to give broader coverage) has many provisions within it to help "level the playing field" for those with a recognized disability. It's a massive piece of legislation, and is well worth the time it takes to read it. You can find a link to the A.D.A. official website on this page, which has links to a huge body of informational resources.

Today I'd like to highlight two provisions of the A.D.A. which should be of special interest to anyone with a disability who also drives. I used to drive (but do so no longer by personal preference) and can remember the days before 1990 when the laws recognized no difference between myself and an able-bodied driver. Mostly this was not a problem, but there were times when the two A.D.A. provisions listed below would have saved me a bit of grief. So what are these special provisions?

Gas Stations. Once upon a time, gas stations were all "full service." For the benefit of you readers who are too young to remember, this meant that when you pulled into a gas station, a smiling (usually) young man would dart toward your car, rain or shine, and dutifully pump your gas, clean your mirrors and windshield, and would even check your fluid levels and tire pressure if you asked. When all that was done, he'd take your money, and even make change if required. Tipping was permitted, if you were so inclined, but all of this exceptional service ultimately cost no more than the price of the gas you had purchased. The best part? You never had to leave your car.

Ah, those were the days.

Then came the concept of dividing the station into "self service" and "full service" sections. As before, if you pulled into a full service lane, a young man (perhaps not smiling as much) would still dart toward your car, and pump your gas, but this came at a slightly higher price at the pump. Those who opted to "self serve" did exactly that. They pumped their own gas, and saved a bit at the pump for doing the work themselves.

This, however, put the disabled driver at an unfair disadvantage, many would say. Disabled drivers who were unable to easily exit their vehicles were forced to use the full service lanes, and thus pay the higher prices. One of the provisions contained within the A.D.A. corrected this inequity by requiring gas station attendants to pump gas for disabled drivers at the self service pumps, and they were not allowed to charge full service prices for doing so.


Of course, now nearly all gas stations (especially in metro areas) are self service, and this poses special problems for those drivers who are unable to pump their own gas. All is not lost, however. The A.D.A. provides for this by requiring attendants at such stations to come to your car if summoned (either by honking your horn, pushing a special "call button" on the pump, or by other means) and pumping gas for you without charging more than the regular price for such service. Additional services are extra, though, so you'll have to find a car wash if dead bugs have obscured your windshield.

Parking. Now here's one that too many disabled drivers don't know about, but should. The law states that a qualified person displaying a disabled placard or license plate on their vehicle can park in a metered spot and is exempt from paying the meter fee. This person is also exempt from any time limitations imposed (i.e. a 1 hour limit.) This person, however, cannot park in the space during a time when parking is prohibited (i.e. No Parking from 5-7 PM), and if the vehicle is a traffic hazard, the vehicle must be moved at the direction of a law enforcement officer to a location designated by the officer. Still, this is a pretty nifty accommodation.

Now, there are those who feel that these are not exactly fair accommodations. To them, I would just say that both exist for valid reasons. Some wheelchair bound persons can't reach a meter to "feed" them quarters, and the extended time allowances compensate for the longer transit times often required by the disabled... but I digress.

I hope you found today's posting useful, or at least informative. There's a lot more to explore when it comes to the A.D.A. and I plan to cover that in future postings to this blog. Meanwhile, follow the link to the A.D.A. site and see all that there is to see. Information gives you power. Use it.

P.S. Do you have questions about disability issues, laws or devices to aid the handicapped? If so, I invite you to email me at BuckeyeBarrierBuster@Buckeye-Express.com. I'll collect your questions and devote a future blog post to answering them. So until next time, keep rolling!


  1. Great blog Lawrence. Since I no longer drive I hadn't given thought to the problems self-service pumps create for the disabled. I most certainly wasn't aware of the laws regarding the provisions for parking. I look forward to reading future blogs on A.D.A.

  2. Hi Kelli!

    Thanks for the kind comments on my blog. I try to come up with something interesting, useful or empowering each week. I just hope I don't run out of stuff to write about. LOL! Thanks again. :)