To help safely transport your Christmas tree this season, AAA has advice and tips to pass along.
Scratched paint, torn door seals and distorted window frames are some of the damages that can be caused by improperly secured Christmas trees when using your private vehicle, officials said.
A 2019 AAA survey found that 44% of Americans who planned to buy a real tree admitted to using unsafe transportation methods when bringing it home.
Trees that are not tied down are also a possible danger to other people on the road, AAA stated.
The roads can be treacherous enough during the holiday season with increased congestion and winter weather conditions — without the addition of unsecured Christmas trees, officials said. But with a little preparation, the proper tools, and the right vehicle, transporting a Christmas tree is easy.
• Use the right vehicle. Only attach Christmas trees to a roof rack, and if one is not available, then transport the tree in the bed of a pickup truck, or in a vehicle large enough to carry the tree inside.
• Call the tree lot ahead of time. There may be limited availability or COVID protocols in place.
Check with the tree lot before heading over, either via the telephone or perhaps they have posted online.
• Use quality tie downs. Bring strong rope or nylon straps when securing a tree to roof rack. Avoid light twine. If you do not have a roof rack, avoid tying the tree through open windows.
• Protect the tree. Wrap the tree in netting before loading it in your vehicle. If netting is unavailable, secure loose branches with rope or twine.
• Protect your vehicle. Place an old blanket between the tree and the vehicle to protect the paint and vehicle finish.
• Point the trunk towards the front. AAA advises to always point the top of the tree towards the front your motor vehicle.
• How to 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-by-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 secure.
• Drive slowly and easily. Higher speeds create significant airflow, which can damage the tree and challenge even the best tie-down methods. AAA said that drivers can face fines and penalties if an unsecured tree falls off their vehicle.