Real Christmas trees can become dangerous projectiles if not properly secured
DEARBORN, Mich., (December 1, 2020) — Thanksgiving has passed and the Christmas season is in full effect. Parents with children in tow are searching for a Christmas tree. Now that you have found the perfect tree, transporting it to your home can be problematic. 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 Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, 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 can also be a driving distraction, putting your safety and others at risk,” added Woodland. “It 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.
Drivers can face hefty fines and penalties as well as jail time if an unsecured tree falls off their vehicle. Currently every state has laws that make it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. Most states’ penalties result in fines ranging from $10 to $5,000, with at least 16 states listing jail as a possible punishment for offenders. Drivers can prevent injuries and avoid penalties by properly securing their loads to prevent items from falling off the vehicle.
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AAA in Michigan celebrated its 100th Anniversary - A Century of Service in 2016 and has over 1.5 million members across the state. It is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG). Connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn.
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.