According to an article published by Consumer Reports in November 2018, more than 95 million American households plan to purchase a live Christmas tree. Unfortunately, many people give much more thought on where to place the tree and which ornaments to hang on it than they do on getting it home safely. Not paying attention to the transportation logistics of your Christmas tree could damage your car or cause an accident that could hurt yourself and others.
Consumer Reports also quotes an article by AAA that states the improper transportation of live Christmas trees caused more than 500 traffic fatalities and 200,000 accidents in the four-year period from 2013 to 2017. Many of these accidents occurred due to debris on the road from people not properly securing their Christmas trees to their cars. To avoid contributing to this problem and making Tennessee roads unsafe this holiday season, we urge you to follow these safety tips described below when preparing to pick up your tree.
Make Sure You Have the Proper Equipment and Vehicle for the Job
Before you leave your home, check your car to see if a Christmas tree would fit inside. Keep in mind that the average holiday tree is about six feet tall. You will need to install a roof rack on the top of your vehicle if it is too small to fit a Christmas tree inside of it. You should do this before leaving home.
In addition to a roof rack for your vehicle, make sure that you have an adequate supply of ratchet straps or other types of tie-downs to ensure that the tree stays secured to the top of your vehicle. While tree sellers typically provide rope to secure a tree to the top of a car, this may not be strong enough to do the trick. This is especially true if you plan to travel at high speeds on a highway or freeway. If available, plan to purchase a tree that the grower has already netted and placed into a bag.
Protect Your Vehicle from Tree Sap and Scratches
Christmas trees may be beautiful to look at but they can quickly damage your car. Pines trees are known for leaking sap and for scratching surfaces with their needles. To avoid damaging your own vehicle or a vehicle that you borrowed, place a blanket or tarp across the roof rack before you place the tree on top of it. Once you do that, take out your tie-downs and ensure the tree is secure before you start driving.
Use a SUV or Station Wagon if Possible
The typical six-foot length of a Christmas tree means that part of it will hang off a roof rack of a smaller car. This could obstruct your vision as the driver as well as that of the driver directly behind your vehicle. The bed of a typical pick-up truck may be large enough to contain the Christmas tree as long as you tie it down. However, you need to check local ordinances in Knoxville, Sevierville, Clinton, Oak Ridge, or your town to find out how far the cargo can extend beyond your truck bed. If the tree extends too far, you may need to place an oversized load warning flag to other drivers.
If you have or can borrow a station wagon or SUV, these vehicles are nearly always long enough to accommodate a six-foot Christmas tree. You will just want to make sure that the roof rack fits securely before you start driving to the tree farm.
Drive with the Trunk Facing Forward
Although it might look awkward, securing the tree to the top of your vehicle with the trunk pointing forward makes sense from an aerodynamic perspective. If you are traveling on an especially windy Tennessee day, the wind could blow the needles of the smaller end of the tree and ruin it. It might even blow the tree off the top of your car even though you already secured it. The heaviness of the trunk pointing forward helps to settle the tree in place and provides an important anchor point.
When You’re the Victim of an Auto Accident Involving a Christmas Tree
Even when you take the time to do everything right to transport your Christmas tree safely, it doesn’t mean that everyone else will. If you have sustained injuries in a car accident caused by a falling tree, tree debris on the road, or another common cause, contact the Law Offices of G. Turner Howard III for a free consultation and let us help you receive the compensation you deserve.