ORLANDO, Fla. - It can be an unnerving sight on the road: A man dressed in a combat helmet, military fatigues and a protective vest clinging to the back of a truck as it zooms down the highway.
However, upon closer inspection it becomes clear to motorists that the hitchhiker is actually a mannequin, installed on the truck to promote a Central Florida business.
"Due to my lack of construction ability, he does have a little shake and wiggle to him, so he almost looks real," said David Kaplan, owner of Combat City USA Airsoft Arena.
Kaplan was looking for a unique way to advertise his pellet gun facility when he was inspired by a giant lobster attached to the roof of a car advertising an Orlando seafood restaurant.
Kaplan acknowledges his rolling billboard is edgy and may fool some motorists.
"I would be concerned about anyone off the back of a truck," said driver Jeanine Jensen, who was shown a photo of Kaplan's truck driving down the 408 Expressway in Orlando.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Kaplan's mannequin appears to be perfectly legal. The metal and foam figure extends three feet off the truck's rear bumper. Under Florida law, any load extending more than four feet from a vehicle must be marked with a red flag or lights.
However, on the very first night, Kaplan took his creation on the road, and said he was pulled over by a police officer.
"I personally think he got a little startled," said Kaplan. "He showed up, saw we weren't hanging live people from the back of the truck and we all moved on with a laugh."
Kaplan, a former police officer himself, does not believe motorists will be distracted by his creation, but he thinks they enjoy it.
"You see the window come down and the passenger take a picture. They look and point at it, so I guess its doing what its supposed to do," Kaplan said.
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