Car emissions test went very wrong for one driver

- A routine emissions test turns into a very scary situation for one Valley man, as another vehicle rammed his car, just as he got out of the car to start the test.

"It shook me up," said Paul Sweeney, who was getting his 2007 Mini Cooper tested. "It shook everybody up."  

According to officials with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), something like this is very rare. Since 2010, the contractor has tested 13 million vehicles, and there's been 4 similar incidents.

In this incident, no ones was hurt.

"I guess they bring the engines up to the equivalent of 30 to 40 miles per hour, and somehow, it came out of that thing at that kind of speed," said Sweeney.

In surveillance video, Sweeney, in his car, was seen pulling into the testing line, with a truck pulling in behind his car moments later. Shortly after that, the truck slammed into the back of Sweeney's car. 

"Just tremendous boom," said Sweeney. "The loudest noise that I've heard in a long time. I went, where's my car? There it goes out the front door. Literally. In the air, out the front door."

Although Sweeney's car is being taken care of, it could have ended much worse.

"My technician actually walked between the two vehicles," said Sweeney. "Then, within five seconds of him exiting my car, it hit. Had he been half in and half out of the car, it would have took him."

Now, Sweeney said he's hoping more will be done for safety, so something like this doesn't happen again.

"They're willing to pay for my car. They're giving me full retail value, which is perfectly fine and I'm not harassing them for wat they've done for me there," said Sweeney. "I just think some safety concerns need to be addressed."

ADEQ officials say several immediate changes are now in place. Customers will now be in a safety booth or behind a physical barrier while the inspection is being done, and inspectors will honk the horn, prior to vehicles being put into drive.

ADEQ tells us a full safety inspection is underway, and the inspector is going through driver training.

Full Statement from ADEQ's Erin Jordan:

"On March 20, 2018, two customer vehicles were involved in an accident at the Vehicle Emissions Facility in Surprise, AZ. No one was hurt.

A mini Cooper pulled into a lane for emissions testing. The driver exited and the inspector initiated testing procedures. A Dodge truck was pulled into the lane behind the mini Cooper. The driver exited and an inspector entered to reposition the vehicle for testing. The inspector accidentally accelerated and hit the vehicle in front. The mini Cooper was not occupied at the time of the accident. The inspector involved was immediately sent through driver training again.

Upon becoming aware of the accident, ADEQ is launching a full safety investigation with the contractor running these facilities. About 1.7 million vehicles move through emissions testing facilities each year. Ensuring the safety of the owners, workers and vehicles is a priority for ADEQ. The contractor also employs the services of a 3rd party safety inspector twice a year.

Immediate changes to be initiated by the contractor are the following:

  1. Customers will either be in the safety booth or seated behind a physical barrier.
  2. To ensure the lane remains clear, inspectors will honk the horn prior to vehicles being put into drive.

The contractor is working with the owners of both vehicles to cover the cost of the damage.

There is one contractor for all emissions stations in the state. There are 18 facilities – 15 in Maricopa and 3 in Pima.

Since 2010, the contractor has tested 13 million vehicles. There have been 4 similar incidents involving contractor employees. No one has been hurt in these other incidents."

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