New Jersey drivers are barred from pumping their own gas even though some say it could save them money. Is it time for the Garden State to re-think its ban?

As of yesterday, statistics show the average price for a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey is a little over $3.64.

Nationally, the average is just over $3.84 and if the price at the pump continues to soar the national average could near or eclipse the record high of $4.114 a gallon set in July of 2008.

NJ Gas Policy Began in 1949

Oregon is the only other state in the nation where it is illegal for motorists to pump their own gas. New Jersey's ban was instituted in 1949. The law was challenged two years later, but the State Supreme Court upheld it.

In 2006, then-Governor Jon Corzine proposed testing self-serve gas stations on the New Jersey Turnpike. He estimated it could save drivers 6 cents a gallon. The public outcry was immediate and bordered on revolt. Corzine's office received over 1,400 mostly negative emails and phone calls. Since then, there's been no real effort to allow self-serve gas stations in New Jersey. At the time of Corzine's proposal, many also felt it would give service station owners a reason to lay-off employees and pocket the profit.

Lowest Gas Prices in New Jersey
New Jersey Gas Prices provided by

Would NJ Drivers Save Money?

It's not clear that drivers would save that much anyway. New Jersey has the third lowest gas tax in the country. There's also something to be said for the luxury of being able to sit in your warm car on a 10-degree, snowy day while an attendant does the work which may not be as easy as it looks. Attendants are required to receive eight hours of training regarding possible health hazards.

In 1989, New Jersey passed another law. That one strengthened the laws regarding this State's ban on self-service dispensing of fuel at service stations.

The Legislature outlined in the findings and declarations several reasons for the prohibition of self-service, including, but not limited to:

  • safety and health hazards to consumers;
  • diminished availability of automotive repair and maintenance facilities;
  • discrimination against senior citizens and disabled individuals, groups often physically incapable of pumping their own gasoline;
  • discrimination against lower-income individuals who are under greater economic pressure to undergo the inconvenience and hazards of dispensing their own gasoline.

State Senator Jeff Van Drew is sponsoring a new bill. His measure cites additional reasons for maintaining the self-service ban in order to protect the health, welfare and safety of the residents of New Jersey. These additional findings and declarations focus upon the importance of: protecting the needs of people with disabilities; the consumers of gasoline in this State; and the small independent retail dealers operating filling stations in New Jersey, and their employees.

Any Gas Price Reduction Would Be Temporary, Sen. Says

"In every state that this has been done in the past, initially gas prices drop and then after self-serve exists for a little while they shoot right up," explains Van Drew. "The oil companies drive them right back up. Time after time in state after state throughout the nation it has been shown that the gas prices only go down temporarily and then they rise more than ever."

Van Drew says," It (self-serve) is not good, in all honesty for anybody. It's a loss of jobs. It will not represent a decrease in prices so it will hurt our economy just that much more."

According to Van Drew it's a great distinction that gas prices are lower in New Jersey than in surrounding states that do allow self-serve. He says he re-introduces this bill every year because every time gas prices start skyrocketing talk inevitably turns to self-service gas stations in the Garden State.