A police officer is seen talking on a mobile phone at the petrol bowser.
A police officer is seen talking on a mobile phone at the petrol bowser.

SNAPPED: Cop using mobile phones at bowser

UPDATE 4.15PM: POLICE have said the officer snapped on a mobile phone at a petrol bowser was not breaking the law and was on an urgent, work-related call.

The officer had stopped to refuel his quad-bike at a Hervey Bay petrol station while on shift in order to continue his work.

Readers have also criticised the man who took the photo, for also using his mobile phone to snap the image of the police officer.

The Woolworths Petrol website points out that smoking or fuelling up while the engine is running is against the law.

But when it comes to mobile phones, the website states their use is "potentially hazardous" as dropping a mobile phone or turning it on or off may cause sparks.

"Using a mobile phone while refuelling can cause a lapse in concentration," it reads.

"This could result in over filling your petrol tank that may cause dangerous spills."

EARLIER: A POLICE officer has been caught on camera at a service station while talking on a mobile phone in Hervey Bay right below a warning sign about the use of such devices.

A Fraser Coast Chronicle reader submitted this report.

"On a picture perfect afternoon at the Pialba Woolworths Petrol Station on Boat Harbour Drive 4:35pm I was disgusted to to see two officers refuelling their quad bikes and happy to be using their cell phones under a sign that strictly illustrates no usage of cellular phones or CB radios.

"I could not say anything but it is my safety if something happened.

"What's good for one must be good for the other.

"I approached the clerk at the point of sale and he exclaimed there was nothing he could do.

"So once again the law suits some not others.

The photo submitted by the reader clearly shows an officer on his mobile phone.

In the photo, he is not refuelling his quad bike at the time.

Police are investigating the issue after the reader's complaint was raised with them.

A police spokesman said he was awaiting further advice but he was unable to find a specific offence for anybody using phones in that location.

Police said Caltex would have its own policy on dealing with people using phones and/or fuelling. 

"As a workplace health and safety issue they will stop bowsers if customers are using phones on the driveway."


According to Shell Australia's website, the use of mobile phones is discouraged at service stations because:

  •     Dropping a mobile phone or switching it on or off can cause sparks, which may ignite petrol vapours.
  •     Using a mobile phone while refuelling can cause a lapse in concentration.

According to Woolworths' website, while smoking at a service station is listed as being against the law, the use of mobile phones is only discouraged.

There are conflicting reports about the real dangers of using a phone at service stations.

According to the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, many reports of the dangers of using phones are based on urban myth rather than reality.

"There is no sound technical basis to prohibit the use of mobile phones at petrol stations or single them out as hazards,'' the AMTA said in a report on its website.

"The amount of radio frequency energy emitted from modern hand-held mobile phones is too low to cause a spark, which could ignite petrol fumes."

"There have been media reports of incidents, however, upon further investigation; these have turned out to be false. Alleged incidents are often based on a hoax email 'warning', which falsely claims to be from Shell Chemicals and includes a number of completely fictitious incidents.

A 1999 report by Exponent Failure Analysis Associates in the USA concluded that "the use of a cell phone at a gasoline filling station under normal operating conditions presents a negligible hazard" and that the likelihood of such an accident under any conditions "is very remote".

US television show Mythbusters has twice investigated the issue.

The program found: "A properly-working cell phone poses almost no danger of igniting gasoline, even when surrounded by gasoline vapor with the optimum fuel-air mix for ignition.

"The actual risk comes from an electrostatic discharge between a charged driver and the car, often a result of continually getting into and out of the vehicle."

That risk is demonstrated in this video below.

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