Phone app is a boost for disabled drivers

Niall El-Assad
Niall El-Assad

A Wigan man has developed an innovative app to help disabled people fill up at the petrol station, after he faced frustration and embarrassment when doing so himself.

FuelService is a revolutionary phone application that enables disabled drivers to fill up at the pump more easily and it has so impressed bosses at fuel giant Shell that they are rolling it out across 900 UK service station!

fuelService app

fuelService app

The idea was the brainchild of Orrell resident Niall El-Assaad, who was left paralysed from the chest down in a road accident near Appley Bridge, four years ago.

And it forced the 41-year-old dad to have to come to terms with many new challenges in situations he had previously taken for granted, one of the biggest of which was driving

“I wouldn’t have had a clue about how much it takes, as a disabled person, to make sure your car has fuel,” he said.

Niall had been taught how to drive without the use of his legs during his length recovery, but found that technology was outdated for anyone disabled trying to fill up at the pump.

I wouldn’t have had a clue about how much it takes, as a disabled person, to make sure your car has fuel

Niall El-Assaad

Infra-red fobs provided to disabled drivers are supposed to alert petrol station attendants that somebody on the forecourt requires assistance, but Niall quickly found that the system often doesn’t work.

“Not only was I embarrassed by having to draw attention to myself by honking my horn and waving my Blue Badge about, but when a station is single manned, the attendant was unable to leave their position to help me. It meant I was waiting ages wondering if they had seen me and if I would get help. When no one came, I would need to drive to another petrol station and try again.”

Frustrated Niall developed fuelService to address those issues. The app works by providing an easy way for disabled drivers to contact petrol stations to check that there will be an attendant able to help before they go.

If they can help, great. The app notifies attendants when the driver arrives, including expected duration. But if not, the motorist has avoided a wasted journey and can try another station. It will even allow less text-savvy drivers to text or call the station.

fuelService is also not-for-profit, with its proceeds going to spinal research charities. The app began its pilot phase in the North West last summer with help of Shell. It is now launching across over 900 petrol filling stations throughout the UK. For details visit fuelservice.org.