Christmas trees are a great way to bring holiday cheer into your home, but they can be dangerous if not properly secured to or in your car when being transported. If trees are not secured correctly, they can fall off and onto the road, potentially causing crashes and collisions. According to the Automotive Association of America (AAA), approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths occurred because of road debris between 2011 and 2014.
Here is how to safely transport a Christmas tree with your car so that everyone stays safe this holiday season.
Bringing a tree home for Christmas is easy with the right equipment, and when you follow these guidelines from AAA:
Pack the right equipment
Bring ropes or nylon ratchet straps, a blanket, and gloves. It is preferable to have a roof rack on top of your vehicle to minimize the tree’s damage to your roof.
Be aware that New York State follows the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s regulations of front and rear cargo overhang. They allow a load of cargo to overhang 3’ in the front and 4’ in the back of your vehicle.
Tie down and wrap the Christmas tree
Cover your roof with a blanket before you load the tree to prevent scratches or other damage to your car. Make sure your tree is wrapped in netting and secured on top of your car with rope or bungee cables so that branches do not fall off.
Place the tree with the trunk facing forward
Position the tree in your truck bed or roof rack so its trunk faces the front of your vehicle. A Christmas tree’s strong trunk makes this the most stable placement. Otherwise, the wind might damage the smaller end of the tree or even blow it off the car.
Secure the tree
New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law states that if a vehicle carries logs or other materials that might shift or roll, the load needs to be secured with safety chains or cables. Since your Christmas tree is considered material, you should secure the tree’s bottom, middle, and top with rope or nylon ratchet straps.
Use the rope or cable to tie the trunk of the tree to your car’s tie-down points. It is important that you do this so that it doesn’t blow away or fall off while you’re moving.
Give your tree a tug
Once you tie the tree down, make sure it’s secure and doesn’t come loose. Give it a few tugs from different angles to confirm it doesn’t budge.
You should drive on local roads and reduce your speed when possible. If you drive at high speeds, you risk damaging your tree or loosening its ties, even when you have taken the right tie-down measures. If you are going a long way back to your house, make sure you stop and check the tree a few times along the route to ensure it is still firmly tied down.
Drivers must secure any loads in or on their vehicles, including Christmas trees. If another driver comes across road debris, like a fallen Christmas tree, and swerves to avoid it, they may end up in an accident.
You may be liable for financial compensation if the injured driver can identify you as the one who dropped the tree. They could file a claim against you and your insurance company if they sustain injuries as a result of their crash.
According to New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law, if your Christmas tree is not properly secured in your vehicle, you can also expect to pay a fine. You may receive a fine of $100 if an item, not just a Christmas tree, falls from your vehicle, with a second offense costing you $350. If it happens for the third time, you may face a $750 fine and/or imprisonment for 30 days.
Car accidents are a common occurrence, and they can be devastating when they happen during the holiday season. Contact the Syracuse car accident lawyers at Catalano Law today to request a free consultation for legal advice about your rights when you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident caused by someone else’s carelessness.
Our car accident lawyers can evaluate your case and negotiate with the insurance company while you focus on your recovery.