Photo Credit: AAA/Chevrolet
Itís December and Christmas tree lots are now popping up on street corners across America. Before you pick out your tree and head home with it, make sure you have the proper tools necessary get it home safely. A new study reports that many drivers arenít transporting their trees correctly which could lead to vehicle damage or even worse, lead to it falling off your vehicle on the way home causing a safety hazard to other motorists.
According to the latest study from the American Automobile Association
, an estimated 84 million (33 percent) of Americans plan to buy a real tree this year. AAA researchers say 44 percent of those who plan to transport a tree home will do so using unsafe methods:
- 20% will tie the tree to the roof of their vehicle without using a roof rack.
- 24% plan to place the tree in the bed of their pickup truck unsecured.
Researchers also say that among those planning to purchase a live Christmas tree this year, 16% have previously experienced a Christmas tree falling off or out of their vehicle during transport. Previous research from AAA found that road debris caused more than 200,000 crashes during a four-year period, resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.
With all this in mind, here are some AAA tips on how to get your Christmas tree home safe and sound.
1. Use the right vehicle.
- Itís always best to transport a Christmas tree on top of a vehicle equipped with a roof rack. However, if you donít have one, you can use the bed of a pickup truck, or a larger vehicle like an SUV, van or minivan that can fit the tree inside with all doors closed.
2. Bring the right tie downs.
- Bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps to secure the tree to your vehicleís roof rack. Avoid the lightweight twine offered by many tree lots.
3. Protect the tree.
- Have the lot wrap the tree in netting before loading it. If netting is unavailable, secure loose branches with rope or twine.
4. Protect your vehicle.
- Before you hoist it up onto the roof of your vehicle, cover it with an old blanket to prevent paint scratches and protect the vehicle finish.
5. Position trunk facing the carís front end.
- Always place the tree on a roof rack or in a pickup bed with the trunk facing the front of the vehicle. (If you donít have a roof rack, place it inside the vehicle.)
6. Tie it down securely.
- 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.
7. 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 come loose.
8. Drive home slowly and carfefully.
- 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.
Chevrolet also provides tree transporting tips of its own which include placing the stump end of the tree toward the front of the car to reduce aerodynamic drag. You can read more of Chevroletís tips here