A flawless Frazier or unspoiled spruce may be the perfect tree to celebrate the Christmas holiday. But if that elegant evergreen isn’t properly transported, it may become a holiday hazard rather than holiday happiness.
“Flying Christmas trees shouldn’t be competing with flying reindeer during the holiday season when roads are treacherous enough with congestion and wintery weather,” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman.
Vehicle towing a tree in Milford recently
If not properly secured, an errant evergreen can certainly dampen your holiday spirts, said Mayko. “Flying trees become missiles and certainly compromises your driving ability and the safety of other road users.”
In fact, a recent AAA survey found 44% of Americans who had previously purchased live Christmas trees admitted they used unsafe methods to transport them home such as securing spruces to cars without using roof racks; or placing unsecured pines in beds of pickup trucks.
Road debris contributes to hundreds of crashes annually on the nation’s roadways with two-thirds of those crashes the result of items falling off vehicles. In Connecticut, the UConn Crash Data Repository reports road debris contributed to more than 1,800 crashes over the last five years.
With a little preparation, the proper tools, and the right vehicle, (if you don’t own a sleigh), transporting trees safely is easy with these tips from AAA:
- Keep It Under Wraps – Ask your tree vendor to wrap your tree in netting. No netting available? Then wrap it in a blanket or tarp. You don’t want loose limbs or bouncy branches to impede your vision while driving.
- Trunk First – Position the tree’s trunk toward the front of your vehicle. If the rack isn’t large enough, the tree will have to go inside your car. Or better yet, buy a smaller tree.
- Tie One On – Use quality tie downs, such as strong rope, twine, or ratchet straps to secure the tree to a roof rack or cargo bed. If none exists, secure blankets or egg crate-type mattresses to the vehicle’s roof. Use rope to secure the vehicle’s hatch or trunk, if necessary.
- Tie One Up – Secure the tree at its bottom, center and top if you’re transporting it on your vehicle’s roof. To prevent side-to-side or front-to-rear movement, use the vehicle’s fixed tie-down points. Loop the rope around the trunk, and above a lower branch. Install the center and top tie downs in a similar manner.
- Pass the Tug Test – Once secured, give the tree several strong tugs from various directions to make sure it’s secure.
- Easy Does It — Reduce your speed and be smooth with your steering, accelerating, and braking. Higher speeds create significant airflow that can damage the tree and compromise the best tie-down methods.