A Long Island man allegedly used a wooden figure in a hooded sweatshirt to drive solo in the Long Island Expressway's HOV lane because, he told officers, he was late to his new job, police said.
A Suffolk County Highway Patrol officer noticed the fake passenger when he pulled the man over for speeding at 77 mph at 6:30 a.m. on Friday in Dix Hills.
A photo of the crudely made dummy shows a wooden board with a block-shaped, wooden head wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
"I was trying not to laugh at the guy because I thought it was quite silly," said officer Jonathan Abrams.
Abrams said for a moment, he actually thought it was a real person.
"The silhouette was realistic enough," he said. "You see people with hoods up, sleeping in the front seat all the time."
The driver, James Campbell, told NBC 4 New York the officer seemed to have a sense of humor about it.
"He said, 'Passenger, can I see some ID?' And I said, 'Officer, I don't think so,'" said Campbell, chuckling.
Campbell told the officer that he was driving to a new job and didn't want to be late.
"He said he started a new job and he couldn't afford to be late to his new job, so traveling through the HOV lane allowed him to get there a little bit faster," said Abrams.
He was issued summonses for speeding and occupancy violation.
Campbell didn't seem deterred. He pulled up to his home Friday evening after work with the dummy still in the front seat, saying he'd been using it for months.
He said, "He's got a sister down in the basement and on special occasions, I bring her out and she wears a tutu."