Edinburgh is the most accessible region in the UK for disabled motorists when it comes to refuelling at petrol stations, according to new figures.
The city district has, per head, the highest number of petrol stations signed up to a wireless key fob service which enables drivers to call for assistance from their car.
The MyHailo system, which is endorsed by the charity Disability Motoring UK, enables drivers with mobility problems to overcome the difficulty of summoning an attendant.
Users can easily identify petrol stations in their area through an interactive map and the specially-designed fob enables them to ask for assistance without leaving their vehicle. A beacon in the petrol station kiosk allows drivers to clearly see staff have acknowledged their call and that help is on its way when the light turns from red to green.
There are almost 500 petrol stations nationwide which have the MyHailo system installed.
Edinburgh (with 1 MyHailo per 46,106 people) tops the table of city districts and counties with Bristol second, Somerset third, Shropshire fourth and County Durham fifth.
“Concerns about how to fill up the car can stop disabled drivers going out and can impact on their independence,” said Ran Meyrav head of business development for assistive technology firm Contacta, which makes MyHailo. “They’ve also told us about the abuse they receive from other motorists for taking much longer to get help or to struggle out of the car to the pump.
“There are apps on the market that offer a similar service but with them you have to worry about whether you have any signal or charge on your phone, and you may still have to phone ahead to let them know you’re coming. With MyHailo you can always be confident you’re driving to a garage that will help you.”
Ian Oakley, 60, from Coventry has Charcot Marie-Tooth, a progressive neuro-muscular condition which means he needs to use a wheelchair.
“Before I had MyHailo I would have to flash my lights and sound my horn to get someone in the kiosk to notice my car,” he said. “I would get plenty of strange looks from other drivers; some of them would shout at me asking me why I wasn’t moving and I’ve been sworn at many times.
“Worrying about how and when I would be able to fill up did stop me travelling too far. MyHailo works and it works well. It has taken so much stress away.”
There are an estimated 1.9 million licensed disabled drivers in the UK and around 400,000 adapted vehicles. Ran Meyrav hopes the new figures released by Contacta will encourage many more to get on the road.
“When examining the data we focused on the figures per head of population as we felt this would give a more useful picture of which UK regions were most accessible for disabled drivers when it comes to refuelling,” he said. “New locations come on board every day and we want as many people as possible to benefit.
“Something as simple as filling the car with petrol shouldn’t be embarrassing or stressful.”