VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It's the holiday season, which means setting up a Christmas tree.
According to AAA, about 84 million Americans plan to purchase a live tree this season. Twenty percent plan to tie the tree to the roof rack, and another 24 percent plan to place the tree in the bed of their pick up truck, unsecured.
A real Christmas tree that isn’t properly secured can become a dangerous projectile, endangering others on the road.
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Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that over four years more than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roads, resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths.
This holiday season, AAA urges all drivers to transport their Christmas trees safely.
AAA gave the following tips to safely transport a Christmas tree:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 similarly.
- 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-down methods.
“Twine that is wrapped around trees and looped through door jambs or open windows can cause serious damage to door seals and window frames,” said Georjeane Blumling, spokesperson for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Drivers should never secure a Christmas tree to the top of a vehicle without a roof rack.”