Pumping Your Own Gas – To Be, Or Not To Be in Oregon?

2 Mar

The great state of Oregon has many claims to fame. We have more ghost towns than any other state, we have the deepest lake in the United States and, much to the chagrin of confused tourists, we are one of only two states without self-serve gas stations.

This final point – that, with a few exceptions, Oregon gas stations require motorists to have gas station attendants fuel their vehicles – is somewhat controversial, despite the fact that, at this point, not being able to pump your own gas is a long-standing tradition.

These days, most supporters of Oregon’s “Pump For Me” law point to the fact that almost 10,000 Oregonians are employed as station attendants. That’s a sizeable number, but when the law was enacted, a different concern was at the front of lawmakers’ minds: safety.

Believe it or not, people accidentally starting massive fires at fuel pumps was a real concern in the 1950s. Oregon’s chief reason for regulating gas station pumps was the then common-sense idea that untrained civilians shouldn’t be working with highly flammable substances. In 2017, you’d have to be very, very irresponsible to cause a fire at a gas station, but gas pumps, like just about everything else, are a lot safer and easier to use now than they were in 1951.

So what does the future of Oregon’s “Pump For Me” law look like? Nothing is set in stone, but lawmakers are considering expanding self-service gas in rural or small-town communities. In 2016, exceptions were implemented to let rural gas stations operate as self-serve stations during late-night hours.

Will there come a day when Oregonians must pump their own gas? If so, it will truly be the end of an era. Just as learning to drive is a milestone nation-wide, learning how to pump your own gas on your first road trip outside of Oregon is a rite of passage in the Beaver state. Here’s to at least a few more years of Oregon’s “concierge” gas station experience!