If you plan to purchase a real Christmas tree this holiday season, AAA urges you to have a plan to get it home safely.
“Nothing will make you say ‘bah humbug’ faster than losing the tree you just bought on the drive home,” Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota director of public affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “If not properly secured, a tree can damage your vehicle, or worse, fly off and become a danger to other drivers.”
In a previous AAA study, nearly one in five real Christmas tree buyers reported having a tree fall off or out of their vehicle when trying to get it home. Additionally, 44 percent of Americans admit to transporting a tree using unsafe methods:
- 20% will tie the tree to the roof of their vehicle without using a roof rack
- 24% percent plan to place the tree in the bed of their pickup truck unsecured
- Road debris - which could include objects like improperly secured Christmas trees that fly off vehicles -- caused more than 200,000 crashes from 2011-2014 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 the tree on top of a vehicle equipped with a roof rack, but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well.
- Come prepared – bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps, an old blanket and gloves.
- 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.
- Protect your vehicle – before 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 tree 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.