Car swerves to miss falling couch on Florida interstate, but driver gets ticket

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A couple traveling north on a Florida interstate swerved and crashed to avoid a couch that fell off a truck in front of them, but the driver said he was ticketed for “failing to drive in a single lane,” according to a crash report.

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The 2006 Toyota Corolla driven by Jake Singer’s girlfriend was totaled in the Feb. 20 incident, and the couple was taken to an area hospital in ambulances, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Both were lucky to survive, but the sting of a traffic citation for $166 was painful.

“He gave us a ticket for basically swerving lanes while trying to avoid a couch that was flying at us on the highway, Singer told the Sun-Sentinel. “We got so pissed.”

Singer and his girlfriend, who asked not to be identified, were driving on Interstate 95 in St. Lucie County, about two hours north of Miami, en route to Washington, the newspaper reported.

That is when the couch fell off the truck, which continued northbound and did not stop. Passersby helped the couple out of the car, which was hanging upside down, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“People were hugging us and freaking out,” Singer told the newspaper. “The fact we were standing there, nobody could believe it, including us.”

At a hospital in Fort Pierce, the trooper in the crash report, identified as Eric Flint, handed the couple the preliminary crash report -- and the citation.

“He seemed nervous to give us this news,” Singer told the Sun-Sentinel. “Which I can understand.”

Lt. Yanko Reyes, a spokesperson for the FHP, said troopers have discretion when issuing citations.

“You have to look at the totality of the circumstances,” Reyes told the newspaper. “Remember, in Florida it is recommended to have at least a two-vehicle length between your vehicle and the vehicles in front of you because that way you have enough time to react in case something like this happens, in case somebody brakes, in case debris falls on the roadway, you’re able to avoid any and all difficulties.

“At the end of the day you are still responsible for the vehicle, and you are supposed to maintain control of that vehicle as long as you’re driving within the state of Florida.”

Singer said he tried to reason with the trooper.

“I actually put together what I thought was a reasonable argument,” Singer told the Sun-Sentinel. “I was like, ‘My understanding of traffic tickets is that you guys lay out the rules of the road and if we violate the rules of the road, then we’ve broken the contract and you can give us a ticket. But the starting point is that you’re giving us a safe road to drive on, and that’s the sort of contract we have, and I’m pretty sure couches flying in the air breaks the contract, and we have to do whatever to stay alive.’”