Do You Know the Ropes?
AAA Urges Drivers to Safely Secure Christmas Trees
Drivers face road hazards and expensive damage from improperly secured trees
Hamilton, NJ, December 6, 2018 – It's that time of year when many New Jerseyans set out in search of the perfect real Christmas tree, then haphazardly 'tie one on' – a dangerous practice for those who don't know the ropes, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic.
According to a 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.
“Twine that is wrapped around trees and looped through door jambs or open windows can cause serious vehicle damage such as scratched paint, torn door seals and distorted window frames – damage that could cost up to $1,500 to repair,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers should never secure a Christmas tree to the top of a vehicle without a roof rack.”
In addition to the vehicle damage, Christmas trees that are not properly secured are a safety hazard for other drivers.
"Throwing a tree on a vehicle and not securing it or carelessly tying it on could present a serious road danger if it comes loose and flies off into traffic," Noble said.
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 nationwide that resulted in 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths over a four-year period. And, about two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of improperly secured items falling from a vehicle.
Fortunately, Christmas trees can be safely transported, AAA says, 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.
- Bring proper tools. 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.
- Protect the tree - and your vehicle. Have the tree wrapped in netting before loading it. If netting is unavailable, secure loose branches with rope or twine. 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 Christmas tree and challenge even the best tie-
Drivers can prevent injuries and vehicle damage, and avoid penalties by properly securing their Christmas trees to prevent them from falling off their vehicles.