Tips for tot­ing a Christ­mas tree on a ve­hi­cle

The Sacramento Bee - - Home & Garden - BY SHIRLEY MCMARLIN Tri­bune-Re­view (Greens­burg, Pa.)

Ev­ery year, mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who pur­chased a “real” hol­i­day tree don’t prop­erly se­cure it to their ve­hi­cle, risk­ing ve­hi­cle dam­age, dan­ger­ous road de­bris and fines, ac­cord­ing to AAA East Cen­tral in Penn­syl­va­nia.

“There is no ques­tion that a real tree can add some­thing spe­cial to your home dur­ing the hol­i­days, but mo­torists need to take trans­port­ing them se­ri­ously,” said Theresa Pod­guski, di­rec­tor of leg­isla­tive af­fairs for AAA East Cen­tral, in a re­lease.

Drivers can face fines and penal­ties, as well as jail time, if an un­se­cured tree falls off a ve­hi­cle. Cur­rently, ev­ery state has laws that make it il­le­gal for items to fall from a ve­hi­cle while on the road. Fines range from $10 to $5,000, with at least 16 states list­ing jail as a pos­si­ble pun­ish­ment for of­fend­ers, the re­lease says.

Ad­di­tion­ally, twine that is looped through door jambs or open win­dows can dam­age door seals and win­dow frames, lead­ing to re­pair bills.

SAFETY TIPS

Use the right ve­hi­cle. It’s best to trans­port a hol­i­day tree on top of a ve­hi­cle equipped with a roof rack. How­ever, if you do not have a roof rack, use the bed of a pickup truck or an SUV that can fit the tree in­side with all doors closed.

Use qual­ity tie downs. Bring strong rope or ny­lon ratchet straps to se­cure the tree to the roof rack. Avoid the light­weight twine of­fered by many tree lots.

Pro­tect the tree. Have the tree wrapped in net­ting be­fore load­ing it. If net­ting is un­avail­able, se­cure loose branches

with rope or twine. Pro­tect your ve­hi­cle. Use an old blan­ket to pre­vent scratches and pro­tect the fin­ish.

Al­ways place the tree on a roof rack or in a pickup bed with the bot­tom of the trunk fac­ing the front of the ve­hi­cle.

Tie it down. Se­cure the tree at its bot­tom, cen­ter and top. Use fixed ve­hi­cle tie-down points when avail­able.

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 blow away.

Drive slowly and eas­ily. Take back roads, if pos­si­ble. Higher speeds cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant air­flow that can dam­age the tree and chal­lenge even the best tie-down meth­ods.

JOHN D. SIM­MONS Char­lotte Ob­server file

Al­ways tie the tree se­curely with the bot­tom of the trunk fac­ing the front of the ve­hi­cle.

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