This year, more than ever, families are likely eager to bring some holiday cheer to their lives. This could mean shopping (and doing so early) for a real Christmas tree. However, nothing will make you say “bah humbug” faster than losing the tree you just bought on the drive home and creating hazardous situations for other drivers. AAA is reminding drivers this holiday season to properly secure and transport their real Christmas trees so everyone can safely enjoy the holidays.
“Real Christmas trees can become dangerous projectiles if not properly secured,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Drivers who do not safely secure their Christmas tree risk damaging their vehicle and littering the roadway with dangerous debris.”
According to AAA:
• Previous research from AAA found that road debris - which could include objects like improperly secured Christmas trees that fly off cars, landing on the road or on other cars - caused more than 200,000 crashes during a four-year period, resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.
• Vehicle damage that results from an improperly secured Christmas tree, such as scratched paint, torn door seals, and distorted window frames, could cost up to $1,500 to repair.
• It’s best to transport a Christmas tree on top of a vehicle equipped with a roof rack, but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well.
Tips to Safely Shop for Your Real Christmas Tree:
• Do not visit a tree lot if you or anyone from your family has tested positive for COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-related symptoms.
• Call the lot ahead of time and ask about their policies for visiting. It is possible they may have reduced operating hours or are limiting the amount of people who can visit the lot at one time. It is also a good idea to ask when they are slow and plan to visit then, when crowds may be smaller.
• Although most lots are located outside, it is recommended to wear a face covering and practice social distancing. Bring hand sanitizer and keep it nearby while shopping.
Tips to Safely Transport Your Tree:
Transporting a real Christmas tree is the same as hauling any other kind of large object. Making sure the tree is properly secured will help prevent vehicle damage and lessen the chance of it coming loose and creating a potential hazard for other drivers.
• Wrap & Cover It – once you’ve found the perfect tree, have the lot wrap it in netting before loading it. Loose branches can also be secured with rope or twine to help protect the tree from damage. Also, prior to loading the tree, cover the roof with an old blanket to prevent scratches to the paint and protect the car from any damage.
• Trunk First – place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of the truck with the trunk facing the front of the car. If the vehicle does not have a roof rack and is large enough – place the tree inside.
• Secure It – tie down the tree at its bottom, center and top using strong rope or nylon ratchet straps. Avoid using the nylon offered by many tree lots. Use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop the rope or strap around the tree trunk above a branch to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement
• Tug Test – once tied down, give the tree several strong tugs from various angles to make sure it is secured in place and will not come loose.
• Nice & Easy – drive slowly and take back roads if possible. Higher speeds can create significant airflow that can damage your tree or challenge even the best tie-down methods.