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Safest Way to Strap a Christmas Tree to your Car

It’s that time of year again, the time to put on your gloves and coat and trek deep into the woods to find the perfect tree to decorate for Christmas. Or if you’re not the Griswold family, it’s far more likely that you’re picking out a tree from a Christmas tree farm or lot. Many of us will still spend hours inspecting hundred of trees searching for the perfect tree: one with the right height, the perfect shape, no bald spots, and needles that won’t fall off when you touch the limbs.

After putting so much time into finding the perfect tree, you want to make sure it gets home safely. If you’re unable to get someone who works at the lot to tie your tree on your car for you, follow this guide to ensure your Christmas tree remains as beautiful as it did when you picked it out.

  1. Use a Roof Rack – If you don’t have a car with a roof rack, consider asking a friend who does to let you borrow their vehicle. A pickup truck or a car with a spacious cargo area is also sufficient. If you can’t get a car with a roof rack, tie the tree down while the doors are open and use a thicker gauge rope if possible. Be extra careful to pull all of your lines extra taut.
  2. Tree Trunk First – When you place your tree on the roof, place it so the trunk is facing toward the front of the car. This reduces drag on the tree and prevents it from losing all of its needles as you drive. It also maintains the proper aerodynamics for your car, making it less difficult to drive.
  3. Secure the Line – When you begin tying your tree to the roof, start by tying your rope to the roof rack, then wrap the rope around the trunk and tie it to the roof rack on the opposing side of the car. This secures the tree to the roof and prevents it from flying forward if you have to hit the brakes hard.
  4. Make a Loop – Tie a loop using an Overhand Loop Knot or Slip Loop knot in the middle of the trunk, then pass your rope under the roof rack and back through the loop you just made.
  5. Tie it Down – Now that you have the tree base secure, it’s time to safely tie down the rest of your tree. Take your rope and pass it over the outside of the roof rack and immediately back under, then throw the line over the top of the tree and repeat the process on the opposite side making sure to pull the line tight. Once you’ve done this, toss your rope back over the tree and repeat the process further down the roof rack. Repeat this until you have four strong lines across the top of the tree. Remember to pull each line tight.
  6. Tie it Off – Once you’ve completed tying down the tree, take the remaining rope and run it back to the trunk, tying it on once more. Cut off excess rope or tie it loosely to the roof.

Is It Even Legal to Drive with a Tree on Your Car?

Okay, so you found the perfect Christmas tree, and now you’re ready to follow these instructions to safely transport it home. But are you even allowed to do that? Is it legal to drive with a Christmas tree on your car?

The law will vary from state to state, but the general idea is that you can transport almost anything you want on top of your car as long as it is secured and managed safely and responsibly. Whether you want to strap a Christmas tree to the top of your van or need that space for extra luggage on a road trip, it is legal as long as it stays in place and doesn’t block your view of the road and mirrors. With that said, you should probably stay away from enormous Christmas trees with so many branches and pine needles that it totally obscures your vehicle while you’re driving home. Try to get a tree that reasonably fits the size of your car as well as your living room.

Unsecured Christmas Trees are a Gift No One Wants

Although you might have seen some clips of Christmas trees humorously sliding off cars and rolling down the street, it really is not a laughing matter. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) estimates more than 7,500 vehicle accidents happen each year due to poor road conditions, like random pieces of debris – or a whole tree – in the road. There is no data that tracks how many of those annual crashes are actually caused by stray Christmas trees, but we can confidently say just one crash is one too many.

If you get into a crash because someone else’s Christmas tree fell into the road and struck you, then Huffman & Huffman in Virginia can help. Dial us at (757) 330-3425 to learn about your rights as a motorist and how to file a claim for damages. When a driver cannot be identified – such as if someone fled the scene without picking up their tree – your own uninsured motorist insurance policy might work.

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