Abandoned couches, lawn mowers and more: The debris that show up on I-75 in Southwest Florida
A Florida Highway Patrol official said it is important for safety that anything being towed, carried or hauled to be secured.
Traveling down a Florida freeway you expect to see vehicles of all kinds motoring along with the flow of traffic.
What you don't expect, and what Florida Highway Patrol troopers have encountered over the years, is everything from abandoned couches to untethered boats and driverless homemade race cars blocking the 70 mph lanes.
Southwest Florida crash stories:
- Unoccupied homemade race car sitting on I-75 sparks crash
- Girl seriously injured in multi-vehicle, chain-reaction crash
- Estero teen killed in I-75 crash after hitting boat that broke free in earlier crash
Twice in the past few weeks Southwest Florida Interstate 75 drivers have had to play dodgem with a boat and a racecar.
Lt. Greg Bueno, with the FHP's public affairs division in the Fort Myers area, said the race car incident remains under criminal investigation.
"We do have a suspect and continue to investigate," he said.
The encounter with the boat, along I-75 near the Charlotte and Sarasota counties line area, meant for some backed-up traffic for a few hours on Tuesday.
"Troopers have seen couches, chairs, mattresses, tires, lawn mowers that have fallen from a trailer or vehicle," Bueno said. "It is extremely important for everyone’s safety and the law to ensure anything being towed, carried or hauled is secure and being transported in compliance with Florida Statute."
Those kinds of road hazards can lead to problems, he said.
"As we saw with the race car incident on I-75, two young girls were injured and their vehicle damaged, but it could have been much worse," Bueno said.
For an Estero woman, it did get much worse in February.
Troopers said the 19-year-old woman was driving south on I-75 near the Bayshore Road exit when the front of her sedan hit the boat, which had unfastened and dislodged in a crash moments before.
The woman died from her injuries. She was Lee County's seventh traffic fatality of 2021.
Bueno stressed that these incidents should serve as a reminder to all drivers to put their phones down, slow down and pay attention, giving themselves every chance to avoid any obstruction in the roadway.
Florida Law on Loads on vehicles
- 1. A vehicle may not be driven or moved on any highway unless the vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent any of its load from dropping, shifting, leaking, blowing, or otherwise escaping therefrom, except that sand may be dropped only for the purpose of securing traction or water or other substance may be sprinkled on a roadway in cleaning or maintaining the roadway.
- 2. It is the duty of every owner and driver, severally, of any vehicle hauling, upon any public road or highway open to the public, dirt, sand, lime rock, gravel, silica, or other similar aggregate or trash, garbage, any inanimate object or objects, or any similar material that could fall or blow from such vehicle, to prevent such materials from falling, blowing, or in any way escaping from such vehicle. Covering and securing the load with a close-fitting tarpaulin or other appropriate cover or a load securing device meeting the requirements of 49 C.F.R. s. 393.100 or a device designed to reasonably ensure that cargo will not shift upon or fall from the vehicle is required and shall constitute compliance with this section.
- 3. a Except as provided in paragraph (b), a violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.
- 3. b Any person who willfully violates the provisions of this section which offense results in serious bodily injury or death to an individual and which offense occurs as a result of failing to comply with subsections (1) and (2) commits a criminal traffic offense and a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
- 4. The provision of subsection (2) requiring covering and securing the load with a close-fitting tarpaulin or other appropriate cover does not apply to vehicles carrying agricultural products locally from a harvest site or to or from a farm on roads where the posted speed limit is 65 miles per hour or less.