Feeds

Mobiles and petrol stations do mix

Explosion risk something of a dead granny

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

It is well known to regular Register readers that mobile phones very dangerous pieces of equipment. If they aren't mashing your mojo, they'll be causing brain tumours or enticing you to plunge ten floors to your death in search of a better signal. Just. Plain. Evil.

Or so we thought. But it turns out that they are not quite so diabolical as all that. There is at least one place your mobile phone will not kill you: the forecourt of a petrol station.

We know, we know: a spark from the phone will ignite the fumes bringing all life as you know it to a fiery end. You've read about it, the petrol stations have those nice clear warning signs and you might even have seen it happen on an episode of CSI.

Phones don't kill people, people kill people

But researchers at the University of Kent now say this is not so. In the last eleven years there have been 243 petrol station fires worldwide attributed to mobiles. But according to a paper by Dr Adam Burgess, not a single one was actually caused by a spark from a mobile.

According to investigations by oil company BP, in many cases static electricity discharging from a person created the spark that triggered the blaze.

Burgess told the Press Association: "The petrol station/mobile phone story crosses into the realm of rumour and urban legend. It’s properly groundless, a story of health and safety gone mad."

The bans on using mobile phones at petrol stations were first brought in after the Piper-Alpha oil rig disaster, in which 167 oil-workers lost their lives. According to Burgess, the ban was not actually based on any evidence, but was a precautionary response to the disaster.

He added that there seems to be no desire on the part of UK health and safety officials or oil companies to clarify the situation.

In the mean time, you can only hope that your car doesn't give you a shock next time you fill up...®

Related stories

Deafening phone - Siemens issues health warning
Mobile phones rot your balls
Mobile phones are a pain in the neck
Mobile phones safe report

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.