Before you pick out that perfect live Christmas tree, AAA Texas reminds drivers to secure your tree properly as it is unsafe and illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. A survey by AAA of drivers who’ve transported live trees revealed that 60% of respondents said that they have previously had a Christmas tree fall off or out of their vehicle when transporting it home.
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If a tree is improperly secured to a car, it can cost drivers as much as $1,500 in repairs. Twine, ropes or straps can wear away paint and tear rubber seals when routed through door or window openings. Closing a door over tree tie-downs may also permanently distort the window frame and tree branches can cause scratches to the paint.
“Improperly secured Christmas trees are a danger to everyone on the road and cause significant damage to a vehicle,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “While most commercial tree lots will have employees to assist you with safely securing your tree before you bring it home, as the vehicle owner you are responsible if the tree causes damage, so you should be familiar with the proper way to secure it.”
To prevent damaging your vehicle and ensure safety on the road, AAA Texas recommends:
- Plan Ahead - bring along the most appropriate vehicle to transport the tree. One with a roof rack is ideal, but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well. Also bring along an old blanket and strong rope or ratchet straps, as well as gloves.
- Wrapping and Covering – 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 instead.
- Securing – 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.
- Testing – 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 and 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.
AAA provides more than 62 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of independently owned motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, AAA has been a leader and advocate for the motorist and safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.