ATLANTA – According to a new survey from AAA, an estimated 84 million Americans intend to purchase a real Christmas tree this holiday season, and will have to figure out a way to get it home safely, according to a press release from AAA.
If a tree is not properly secured, it can cause vehicle damage such as scratched paint, torn door seals or distorted window frames, or worse.
A tree could also fly off or out of the vehicle and become a danger to other drivers.
According to the survey, 44% of those intending to purchase a real Christmas tree will transport the tree using unsafe methods.
This includes 20% who will tie the tree to the roof of their vehicle without a roof rack and 24% who plan to place their tree in the bed of their pickup truck unsecured.
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.
AAA recommends these tips for transporting a real Christmas tree.
Before heading out to buy a real Christmas tree, make sure to bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps, an old blanket, gloves and — of course — the right vehicle. One with a roof rack is ideal, but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well.
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.
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.
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 a SUV, CUV, van or minivan — place the tree inside. If not, rent or borrow a pickup truck, a vehicle with a roof rack or one that is large enough to accommodate the tree inside.
Secure the tree at its bottom, center and top using strong rope or nylon ratchet straps. Avoid using the twine 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.
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.
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.