Updated: January 17, 2013 6:34AM
Two factors have intersected to produce an Illinois law that common sense should make unnecessary.
The law to help drivers with disabilities was passed unanimously by the Legislature and awaits Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature. Wondering why a law is needed to make common sense official? We are, too, but apparently it is.
First, we live in rude, often indifferent times. We need not examine that theory too closely because it simply has become the way we live. And second, what were once called “service stations” no longer provide automotive service unless it involves buying large bags of fried pork rinds and lottery tickets. It’s a do-it-yourself, cost-saving universe.
Having a friendly attendant greet you and fill your tank, check your oil and clean your windshield is a quaint anachronism, so yesterday that much of the population cannot relate. But it used to be commonplace.
Most drivers adapted to the culture change of self-serve without incident. But what of handicapped drivers for whom help at the gas pump was not just a convenience but a necessity?
Federal and Illinois law mandate that gas station operators must pump gas for disabled motorists, but how do you get the attention of the lottery/snacks/coffee clerk without obnoxious horn honking?
Under the new Illinois law, the proprietor must have a disabled-approved gas dispenser (very expensive) or a posted phone number (very cheap) that someone inside will presumably answer.
To the disabled, this is no trifle. Ann Ford, who represented the Centers for Independent Living at hearings on the bill, said she once was driving back from Springfield, and “it took going to three different gas stations and two hours to get a tank of gas because no one could see us.”
The disabled have long believed they’re invisible to the able-bodied, who do not appreciate their challenges. We ignore what we don’t want to see. The new law is reasonable because common sense apparently cannot be left to chance.