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Jana Tidwell
Public Relations Manager, PA
O: (302) 299-4426
C: (302) 353-6563

Kathleen Zinszer
Sr. Public Aff. Specialist, CT/DE/NJ/PA
O: (302) 299-4168
C: (610) 291-7312

AAA Mid-Atlantic Helps Drivers “Tie One On and Get Lit” Safely


Safety tips for properly transporting, decorating and displaying a Christmas tree


PHILADELPHIA, PA, (December 12, 2017) – With the Christmas season well underway, many Philadelphia-area residents have turned their focus to choosing a live tree. Whether tying the tree to the vehicle yourself or having someone do it for you, drivers should always make sure that their new holiday decoration won’t harm their vehicle, other motorists’ vehicles or the passengers inside. And once you get your tree home, there are a few things to know to help you keep it and your holiday homestead safe.


According to a new AAA survey, an estimated 20 million Americans who purchased a real Christmas tree in the last three years did not properly secure it to their vehicle, risking serious vehicle damage and endangering others on the road.


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.


AAA Mid-Atlantic has tips to help drivers properly “tie one on.”

  • 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. Bring an old blanket and gloves.
  • Wrap the tree with netting, rope or twine, and place a blanket on the vehicle’s roof.

  • Place the cut portion of the tree trunk facing the FRONT of the vehicle.

  • Secure the tree to a roof-mounted carrying rack.

  • Wrap a line around the tree (12 to 14 inches from the top) and secure on the left and right corners of the vehicle.

  • Secure a line to the trunk and then to the left and right corners of the vehicle.

  • Be sure limbs do not impede vision to the front or rear.

  • 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 carefully! With a heavy load, be sure to brake, steer and accelerate gently.

“It is important to secure a tree properly to your vehicle, as to not damage the car or create a hazard on the road,” said Jana L. Tidwell, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Drivers should never secure a Christmas tree to the top of a vehicle without a roof rack.  Twine that is wrapped around trees and looped through door jambs or open windows can cause serious damage to door seals and window frames. And trees not secured properly can become road hazards.”


In Pennsylvania, under PA General Assembly Title 75, the general rule is that no vehicle shall be driven or moved on any highway unless the vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking or otherwise escaping. Violations can result in a fine of between $100 and $1,000, dependent on whether the violation caused an injury.


According to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, road debris (such as a Christmas tree flying off a car) was responsible for more than 200,000 crashes that resulted in 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths over the past four years. And, about two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of improperly secured items falling from a vehicle.


Once the Christmas tree reaches its holiday home safely, proper placement and decorations are key to prevent a devastating house fire.  The National Fire Protection Association reports that although Christmas tree fires are rare, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.


“No one wants to have their holiday ruined by a house fire that could have been prevented,” said Craig Small, Ogden Fire Company Chief.  “While you may look at your tree as the centerpiece of your holiday decorations, you must treat it as a potential fire danger and take steps to protect your family and your home.”


Make sure the fireplace is all that gets “lit.”

  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source (fireplace, radiator, candles, heat vents, or lights)

  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

  • Add water to your tree daily.

  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Never use lit candles to light the tree.

  • Always turn off the lights on the tree before going to bed or leaving home


Follow us on Twitter: @AAAPhillyNews

Mailing Address:
7777 Brewster Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19159

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit

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