Editors note: B-Roll of how to properly secure your Christmas tree on your vehicle is available here.
This weekend is expected to be the busiest period for Christmas tree sales, according to the Square point-of purchase app. The Automobile Club of Southern California is advising consumers to avoid vehicle damage and crashes by following a few simple safety tips.
“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,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring.
AAA research shows that road debris such as fallen Christmas trees has caused 200,000 crashes over a four-year period, causing 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.
To prevent damaging your vehicle and ensure safety on the road, AAA recommends:
Planning 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 & 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.