Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsEngineering · 1 decade ago

Why are we advised to turn mobiles phones off at petrol stations?

I assume its because small elec current from phone could spark with fumes to create fire

what is the science exactly and if it is dangerous to use mobiles on forecourts why is is not enforced so many people use mobiles at service stations

thank you in advance

46 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best answer

    Very interesting theories about radio waves, RF transmitters and all the other connotations but I can tell you it is much simpler than that.

    Every mobile phone contains a battery and therefore if you drop it while leaving the car or whilst juggling the petrol pump

    there is a big risk of the unit opening and the battery causing a spark. Simple as that I am afraid. Think how many times your phone has split open when it drops on a hard surface ?? Makes sense doesn't it ?

  • 1 decade ago

    It's not enforced because it's rubbish. There was, when the predominant technology was of the analogue variety, a tiny chance that the signal to or from the phone could spark vapour in the fuel tanks. Utter rubbish, and never proven.

    Now that analogue has gone the way of the dodo and all recent phones in the UK are digital there's no chance whatsoever.

    Of course, it is always likely that should the phone interfere with the pump registering the correct amounts the oil companies, with their 'tiny little' profits, they'd rather tell the public there's a risk of explosion rather than a chance the public would save money.

    It's not unlike tranferring ammunition around a warship. We're told not to use mobile phones because the electrical signal can spark a round off and basically blow us all to bits.

    Which people on board find quite amusing. Why? Because we transfer ammo from the upper deck down to the magazines by going past electrical systems carrying, in some cases, 440 volts....

    Source(s): Six years in the Navy.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It's all down to static electricity.

    Even a very slight static charge is capable of igniting any spilt petrol on the pumps or on your car. In theory you should also ensure that when you fill up your car that you keep a constant connection between yourself, the car and the pump.

    I have seen cases in the USA (They have pumps that don't require you to be holding them) were people have left cars being filled and then returned to remove them. A small static charge has then come into contact and caused the whole thing to ignite.

    I have never seen any go fireball, as both modern pumps and cars have cut off points (best example is if you have ever seen this happen in an F1 race) subsequently they quickly go out.

    Ergo, the battery on a phone can be the cause of a static charge.

  • 1 decade ago

    On a TV programme called "Mythbusters" they tested this theory about mobile phones causing explosions with petrol, gas etc. As hard as they tried, they could NOT get a mobile phone to ignite any of these sources...! They put the myth down to static electricity. At some point you must have stepped out a car and got a small electric shock..? Its when you step out without touching the car and then return with the pump nozzle in hand and "spark" that causes the problem of petrol ignition.

    Source(s): Discovery Channel. And one of the guys is a qualified pyrotechnician.
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  • 1 decade ago

    it's because mobile phones are not Intrinsically Safe i.e the electronics are not completely sealed so in theory a small spark could ignite fumes at the petrol station. I'm not sure if this has ever happened though.

  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, mobile phones are banned from petrol forecourts because of the 'risk' of fire.

    However, they tested the theory in an episode of Mythbusters where they got a caravan and placed petrol and a mobile phone in it. They then rang the phone and nothing happened. They then upped the ante until eventually the entire caravan was doused with petrol and loads of phones were placed inside all ringing simultaneously but they still couldn't get it to explode.

  • 1 decade ago

    Actually it has nothing to do with fires or explosions. They put the signs there because Mobile Phones interfere with most electrical devices and if a moblie is in operation around a pump it may produce more gas by interfering with the pump power control system. Sevice Stations simply dont want all the hassle.

    Source(s): Mechanical Engineer Worked in a Service Station for 4 and a half years
  • 1 decade ago

    Static electricity can cause sparks from your mobile in transmit mode like the old Citizens band radio's could although it is very very unlikely

    You are more likely to create a spark from you to your vehicle we often get a belt from the door handle and I have never seen this sited as a danger in fuel stations

    Probably because it would mean we had to stay in our car's and have the attendant serve you ( they could then call them (Service Stations )

  • Icarus
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    It is supposed to be that the static electricity of a received signal could spark the petrol fumes and kadabooom everyone goes up in a fireball.

    Statistically (like that normally counts for anything) it was shown that the friction caused, between your trousers and the car seat, by getting out of the car is far more likely to spark a reaction.

  • Karen
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Anyone who says cell phone use does not constitute a risk when fuelling a car with petrol is talking nonsense. There are a number of staff training videos showing incidents recorded by forecourt surveillance cameras. People should not spread dangerous rumours about safety matters that they clearly know nothing about. Petroleum industry professional.

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