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Wednesday March 3rd, 2021 1:18PM

AAA warns drivers about Christmas tree transportation safety

By AccessWDUN Staff

With many families on the search for a Christmas tree this holiday season, AAA in Atlanta is urging families to keep safety in mind when transporting a tree back to their home.

Making sure the tree is secured will help prevent damage, and will lessen the chance of it coming loose and creating a potential hazard while driving, according to a press release from AAA.

The release states AAA found road debris caused more than 200,000 crashes during a four-year period, which caused about 39,000 injures and 500 deaths across the United States. Hauling a real Christmas tree is just like transporting any other large object, according to the release.

AAA recommends taking the following steps for Christmas tree safety:

  • Do not visit a tree lot if you or anyone in your family has tested positive or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Call the tree lot ahead of time to ask about their policies, as they may be taking additional precautions this year due to COVID-19. The release also suggests asking when they are typically less busy and plan to visit at that time.
  • AAA recommends wearing a face covering and practice social distancing. They also say to bring hand sanitizer and keep it nearby.
  • Bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps, an old blanket, gloves and the right vehicle. AAA suggests a vehicle with a roof rack, a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan.
  • Have the tree lot wrap the tree you're purchasing in netting to secure its branches during transport.
  • Cover the roof of the vehicle with an old blanket prior to loading the tree to prevent any damage to your car.
  • Place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of the truck with the trunk facing the front of the vehicle. If you have an SUV, CUV, van or minivan, place the tree inside. Otherwise, AAA suggests renting or borrowing a pickup truck, a vehicle with a roof rack, or one that is large enough to fit the tree inside.
  • The release says to 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.
  • Before leaving the tree lot, give the tree several strong tugs from various angles to make sure it is secured and will not come loose.
  • Lastly, drive slowly and take back roads if possible. Higher speeds can create high airflow that can damage your tree or loosen your tie-down method.

According to the release, drivers can face fines and penalties as well as jail time if an unsecured tree falls off their vehicle. Most states' penalties result in fines from $10 to $5,000, with at least 16 states listing jail time as a possible punishment for offenders. 

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