“Twine that is wrapped around trees and looped through door jambs or open windows can cause serious damage to door seals and window frames,” said Greg Brannon, director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Drivers should never secure a Christmas tree to the top of a vehicle without a roof rack.”
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, road debris – which could include objects like improperly secured Christmas trees that have the potential to fall off vehicles and land on the road or other vehicles – was responsible for more than 200,000 crashes that resulted in 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths over the past four years. Plus, approximately two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of improperly secured items falling from a vehicle.
Fortunately, Christmas trees can be safely transported by taking the following steps:
- Use the right vehicle. It’s best to transport a Christmas tree on top of a vehicle equipped with a roof rack. However, if you do not have a roof rack, use the bed of a pickup truck, or an SUV, van or minivan that can fit the tree inside with all doors closed.
- Use quality tie downs. Bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps to secure the tree to your vehicle’s roof rack. Avoid the lightweight twine offered by many tree lots.
- Protect the tree. Have the tree wrapped in netting before loading it. If netting is unavailable, secure loose branches with rope or twine.
- Protect your vehicle. Use an old blanket to prevent paint scratches and protect the vehicle finish.
- Point the trunk towards the front. Always place the tree on a roof rack or in a pickup bed with the bottom of the tree trunk facing the front of the vehicle.
- Tie it down. Secure the tree at its bottom, center and top. At the bottom, use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop around the trunk above a lower branch, to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement. The center and top tie downs should be installed in a similar manner.
- Give it the tug test. Before you leave the lot, give the tree several strong tugs from various directions to make sure it is secured in place and will not blow away.
- Drive slowly and easily. Take the back roads, if possible. Higher speeds create significant airflow that can damage your Christmas tree and 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. Every state currently has laws that make it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. Most states’ penalties result in fines with at least 16 states listing jail time 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.
About AAA Hoosier Motor Club
AAA Hoosier Motor Club is a fully tax-paying, not-for-profit corporation with more than 300 employees that offers membership benefits, emergency roadside service, insurance and travel agency services both online and through 14 retail outlets across the state. The 435,000-member affiliate of the American Automobile Association (AAA) works for the enhancement of safety and the overall improvement of travel conditions within its 50-county Indiana territory. AAA is the largest motoring and leisure travel organization in North America with more than 56 million members. Additionally, AAA Insurance has been protecting the cars, homes and financial security of Hoosiers for more than 80 years.
For more information on AAA Hoosier Motor Club, please visit AAA.com.