Seems ridiculous to me, although it reminded me I did witness a "true decapitation risk" the other day. I was following an older SUV and I could see the spare tire swaying and banging around under the vehicle.
Yeah, true story ...
One fine spring day, I'm commuting home on the KLR. Despite the heavy 5:30pm traffic, it's lovely weather, bike is running great -what's not to like. Normal attire -heavy jeans, full-face helmet, MC-gloves and boots, armored jacket.
And because its California, no law against lane splitting. So I'm threading the bike through thick traffic. Most cage drivers are at least tolerant of a bike squeezing past, and some are even courteous. We're all moving along at regular speeds, two lanes each way, and mostly straight road.
Then there's a section of the road undergoing construction, and traffic slows to about 30. No problem though, I'm still filtering through, cars, cars, trucks, SUVs... coming upon a silver minivan in the left lane and a dark gray Dodge crewcab pickup. As I'm about to pass between these two, I hear a loud BAM! and the ass end of the pickup suddenly jumps a full foot in the air. Momentarily I'm thinking "What the ...? He hit an object in the road? Break in the asphalt ...?"
Split second later, the dude's spare tire comes flying up from under the truck, flipping end-over like a tossed coin, and that full-sized spare is aiming straight for me. "OH-SH!T!!! - BRAKES-BRAKES-BRAKES!"
The flipping tire peaks at about 10-12 feet in the air and is now coming down straight towards me and the scooter. I lean my head/torso hard left, trying to avoid the spare, but keep hands-on the handlebars, and the whole bike begins to drifting left. Whack! -the tire impacts the right side of the headlight fairing, the right handle bar, tears off that turn signal, and ricochets into the middle of the right lane. The bike shudders and wobbles from the impact, but before the brain can relax momma in her silver minivan has noticed something weird and she's now hard on the brakes. Jeez -collision course with the backside of her minivan. "Steer right!!!" Dodged the minivan, and now scan for an exit ... Cool, traffic behind this CF has mostly stopped and the spare tire is blocking the right-hand lane, so I aim the scooter across the lane and onto the gravel shoulder with no further drama.
Dude in the pickup has pulled over and I park the bike a few feet behind him. He's clueless as to what the hell just happened, inspecting the bumper and tailgate and the back of the truck. Hmm - no damage. I'm slowly pulling off the helmet and he says to me "What happened?" I suspect he's still thinking my motorcycle hit his shiny pickup. "It's your fncking spare tire, dude." and point to the tire blocking traffic in the right lane.
He doesn't get it, shaking his head, "No way!" So we both look under his truck to see the frayed end of the steel cable hanging there where his spare should be. The light finally comes on. Now he's very apologetic, are you okay, did it hit you, did it damage your bike? "No, I dodged it, just left some tracks on the fairing and sheered off the turn signal."
A good samaritan rolls up with the tire and it gets loaded into the truck bed, I collect the broken turn signal, and we all on our way home again. Frayed cable say's it's been abused or near broken for some time.
What I done wrong: Thinking that lane-splitting was okay through a construction zone in rush hour traffic. Could have avoided the scenario altogether.
What I done right: Skills and drills practices for panic stops, constantly scanning for exits, always covering the front brake. and wearing protective gear -for as much coverage as it can provide.
... luckily, I was wearing my brown pants.