Once Thanksgiving has come and gone, many of us set our sights on finding the perfect Christmas tree. It has to be just the right size and shape, fit in the front window perfectly, and the lights and ornaments need to be distributed just so. But whether or not you get your tree from a local lot, or head out to a farm to cut one down yourself, we all need to get those trees back to our houses somehow. While seeing cars on the highway with a Christmas tree secured on top is a quintessential sign that the holiday is approaching, it’s incredibly important to ensure that the tree is secured properly not only for the tree’s sake, but for the safety of you, your family, and other people on the road.
While there aren’t really statistics that tell us exactly how many car collisions have been caused by rogue Christmas trees falling off of the tops of cars, having any sort object come lose from a car traveling at any speed is undoubtedly dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 52,000 of all automobile accidents that took place between 2005 and 2007 were due to environmental factors. Of those crashes, 50% were due to road conditions, such as debris on the road, and 11% were due to obstruction of the driver's view. A Christmas tree that is not secured properly can slide down the roof, blocking the windshield and obstructing the driver’s view. Should the tree come off the roof completely, the tree can slide down the car obstructing the driver's view, fall on to another car, or fall in the road causing drivers to swerve their vehicles to try and avoid hitting the tree, which are all outcomes that can cause a car crash. As such, Cars.com, in partnership with the National Christmas Tree Association, suggests the following tips for properly securing your Christmas tree to your vehicle.
Christmas Tree Transportation Safety Tips
Get your Christmas tree netted before leaving the lot to make it more manageable. If it's going on the roof, the trunk should be facing the front. Both will help reduce wind damage to the foliage.
Make sure to select a tree that will either fit inside your cargo area or, if you have a roof rack, on top of your roof properly. Also ensure that you have enough rope or cord to wrap around the tree and secure it to the roof rack or to cargo hooks.
Place a tarp or blanket over the cargo area to protect the interior from loose needles. If you're going to place the tree on the roof, place a tarp, plastic sheet or blanket between the tree and the rack to protect the roof from scratches.
If you are transporting a tree in the back of a pickup truck, keep in mind that there could be hot spots in the bed—from the exhaust pipe, for example. This can damage the tree's foliage, so put something under it like an old blanket.
Before leaving the lot, give the tree a good tug to make sure it's secure.
Drive slowly and avoid the highway, especially if you're not used to hauling heavy objects on your roof. They affect your vehicle's center of gravity and consequently emergency handling.
Following these tips can’t guarantee that your tree will stay put, but they can help decrease the likelihood of losing your tree in transit. Some car collisions, such as those caused by winter weather conditions, may be out of your control. However, by taking time to tightly secure your Christmas tree to your vehicle is something you can be responsible for. While automobile accidents caused by Christmas trees may sound far fetched, it’s undeniable that having such a large object come loose on the freeway would be incredibly dangerous. Taking a few extra minutes to really secure your tree will not only keep you, your family, and other drivers safer, but may also save you an embarrassing phone call to your attorney about how you were involved in an accident with the family tree.
The holidays are a joyous time of year, but hauling Christmas trees, winter weather, and holiday road trip traffic can all lead to car accidents. If you or a loved one have been involved in an automobile accident this holiday season, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. Let our experienced accident attorneys put you at ease while you enjoy the season's festivities.