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 unique 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 avoid the humiliation of having to blast their horn or wave out of the window to summon an attendant, or even being verbally abused by other drivers.
Users can easily identify petrol stations in their area through an interactive map and the specially-designed fob allows 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 and include locations at major retailers such as Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and BP.
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.
There are almost 500 petrol stations nationwide which have the MyHailo system
“Concerns about how to fill up the car can stop disabled drivers going out and can impact on their independence,” says 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.”
45 year old Mona Patel from Greater Manchester has been driving an adapted car since her late 20s because of GNE myopathy, a very rare muscle disease. Before using MyHailo she wouldn’t drive far unless someone could go with her to fill up the car.
“Putting diesel in the car by myself can easily take 20 minutes,” she said. “I have to open the automatic ramp at the rear of the car, disengage my wheelchair, manoeuvre to the pump, struggle to lift the fuel dispenser, which I find very heavy, and even then I can only put in about £5 worth before I get cramp in my hands.
“People give me impatient looks or honk their horn at me to hurry up. I have to wave my Blue Badge at them to make them understand. The MyHailo system is a far more dignified way for me to refuel and the forecourt staff are so helpful. Thank goodness for MyHailo!”
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.
MyHailo is endorsed by Disability Motoring UK.
The MyHailo key fobs are available for a one-off cost of £19.95 from:
Contacta enhances customer service by creating and installing a unique range of assistance solutions, including hearing loops, speech transfer products, disability refuelling assistance and secure transfer units. www.contacta.co.uk
For further information please contact Lisa Pettifer
Rare Revolution Editor