AAA shares tips on how to safely secure holiday trees for the road

Health & Safety

A shopper passes by a display of Christmas trees outside the main entrance to a grocery store, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in southeast Denver. Add Christmas trees to the list of items facing shortages and higher prices this year. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — AAA East Central sent out a message today, urging motorists to safely secure their trees during transportation.

An unsecured object on a moving vehicle can risk becoming a hazard to both the vehicle carrying it and other vehicles on the road.

“A real tree can add that special touch to your home’s holiday decor, but motorists need to use caution when transporting a live tree,” said JJ Miller, safety advisor, AAA East Central. “Negligence could mean you are putting other lives at risk and you could be setting yourself up for costly repairs to your own vehicle.”

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that, over a four-year period, more than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roads, including 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths. In the case of an unsecured tree falling off their vehicle, drivers can face fines ranging from $10 to $5,000 as well as jail time.

An improperly secured tree can also end up costing the driver up to $1,500 in repairs, usually in cases where the driver wraps the tree around door jambs or open windows, which can cause permanent damage and numerous scratches.

AAA Tips for Safely Securing a Holiday Tree:

  • Use the right vehicle. It’s best to transport a holiday 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 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 Holiday tree and challenge even the best tie-down methods. 

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