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Tips for Safely Transporting a Christmas Tree

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Christmas tree on car roof

Transporting a Christmas tree from the tree lot to your home can be a dicey proposition. Vehicle-related road debris is estimated to cause more than 250,000 car accidents annually, including 81-90 deaths, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, as Jennifer Geiger writes for the Cars.com blog Kicking Tires. “Don’t be a Clark Griswold; start planning how to get your tree and the Family Truckster home without becoming a road hazard,” she writes, referring to the goofy dad in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Geiger suggests that you take the advice of the farm or lot where you buy your tree, as those places deal with “thousands of trees per year and you deal with one,” as National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) spokesman Rick Dungey told her. NCTA’s website says it is not necessary to bring any saws to a Christmas tree farm, as saws are usually provided by the farm operators.

Writing for esuranceblog, Anne Le Tran suggests that in preparing for your drive to buy a Christmas tree, you bring along a bungee cord, rope, or ratchet straps, as it is a safety necessity to strap the tree down. Make sure you have enough length of the cord, rope, or straps to properly secure the tree, Geiger writes. Another key piece of equipment to bring with you is a tarp or old blanket, Le Tran writes, to protect your car from getting scratched. Also bring along thick gloves, because the spiky parts of the trees “are called needles for a reason,” she writes.

Choose a tree that will fit on top of your vehicle, as well as fit in the space you have allocated for it in your home. NCTA’s website makes it easy to find farms in your area that you can contact to see if they have the variety of tree you want. Different species have different characteristics, and there might be some that will be easier to transport on your particular vehicle.

Geiger offers these tips from the National Christmas Tree Association:

  1. Have your tree wrapped in a net before you leave the lot, to make it more manageable to transport. It you are placing it on your vehicle’s roof, have the trench facing forward. The net and the trunk-forward placement will help to reduce wind damage to the tree.
  2. Place the blanket or trap that you brought along over the roof and under the tree, to prevent scratches to your vehicle.
  3. Before you leave the lot, give the tree a tug to make sure it is tightly attached to the roof racks.
  4. Drive slowly, and avoid highways. This is especially important if you are not used to transporting heavy objects on your vehicle’s roof. The tree can affect the vehicle’s center of gravity and the way it handles in an emergency.

Geiger cautions:

We don’t recommend tying a tree on your car’s roof without a roof rack. If you don’t have the proper car to take your tree home, find a friend with a more capable vehicle. Even better: Some Christmas tree lots deliver.

Of course, all of this only applies to people who want to have live Christmas trees (or “holiday bushes”). As Geiger suggests, if a tree is an integral part of your holiday celebration and transporting a fresh one makes you nervous about driving, you could always buy an artificial one.

Image by Andrew Butitta

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