Real Life

Can you use a cellphone at petrol stations?

Consumer expert Kevin Milne investigates the ban on cellphones at gas stations.

You’ve heard it often enough – never use your cellphone while you’re filling up with petrol. But you’ve heard just as often that the risk of setting off an explosion is just a myth. What’s the truth?

My understanding is that researchers have never been able to find a single incident where an explosion of petrol has occurred through someone using their mobile phone on the forecourt of a petrol station.

The TV show MythBusters tried to create an explosion by setting up such a set of circumstances but failed. So, to that extent, stories of disasters in the past are likely a myth.

However, it appears as though the communications and oil industries have yet to be convinced that such an accident couldn’t happen. Most of the major cellphone manufacturers warn users not to use their cellphones when pumping gas. And most petrol station owners have warnings not to talk on your mobiles while on the forecourt.

My wise advice is to take the cautious option – don’t use them.

Do you have a question for Kevin? Email [email protected] (Subject line: Consumer) or post to: NZWW, Bauer Media, Private Bag 92512, Auckland 1036.

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Image: Michelle Pirie/

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