An award-winning app that enables drivers with disabilities to pre-book assistance with refuelling is being rolled out at Sainsbury’s filling stations.

Last month Shell won the Forecourt Trader Award for the Best Oil Company Initiative for its introduction of the FuelService app to its company owned sites. Adopting the system means drivers with disabilities are no longer at risk of being left waiting, or forced to drive to other petrol services unsure if a member of staff has seen them.

FuelService is an app or telephone service that enables customers to locate a petrol station that offers assistance and ask staff if they will be able to help before driving there. It then lets the station know when they arrive.

On acceptance of the request, the station will be notified when the customer parks up and which pump they are at. By simply pressing a button, staff can acknowledge their arrival and inform the customer how long they will be.

Following a successful trial in 58 stations, fuelService and Sainsbury’s will now roll the service to its full network.

The service is available primarily via an app on IOS, Android or Windows Phones, with an interactive telephone line, SMS and online booking options also available. It will be open to customers seven days a week at all participating stations.

Tim Fallowfield, company secretary, corporate services director and board sponsor for disability, age and carers at Sainsbury’s, said: “We are delighted to be working with fuelService to make this option available to as many of our customers as possible. We want to be the most inclusive retailer, making all our customers feel welcome when they shop with us. Sainsbury’s is focusing on delivering great service that works for everyone, which is why it’s important we offer an alternative interactive telephone service alongside the app for those without smartphones. We hope people spread the word to make sure those that need it most are aware the service is available.”

Niall El-Assaad, founder of fuelService, commented: “It’s fantastic that Sainsbury’s is the UK’s first supermarket to offer this service to its customers. Refuelling has always been a frustrating issue for disabled drivers. While you have your independence in being able to drive, the limited options to pump your own petrol can leave you with a very restricted route. Often the only option is to beep your horn, flash your lights and wave your blue badge about – a method which can be very embarrassing and also offers no guarantee of service. By providing customers with the option to quickly check for assistance in advance we hope to give them more freedom to travel without any constraints.”

Graham Footer, chief executive, disabled motoring UK added: “Refuelling continues to be a daily struggle for disabled motorists and it’s a challenge that has been going on for far too long. Everyone with a disability or impairment can benefit from a solution like this and it’s great to see Sainsbury’s leading the way and making it easily accessible to thousands of its customers.”