It was surprising to me, but I discovered that there are many motor vehicle crashes that occur as a result of Christmas trees falling off of or out of vehicles during trips the trip home after buying the tree. According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), 44% of Americans who plan to buy a live Christmas tree won’t take the steps necessary to get it home safely.This percentage seems really high but AAA insists it’s an accurate figure. AAA proclaimed the following: “What many people may not realize is that transporting a real Christmas tree is the same thing as hauling any other kind of large object. Making sure the tree is properly secured will help prevent vehicle damage and lessen the chance of it becoming loose and creating a potential hazard for other drivers.”

Christmas trees and any other large debris in the road contribute to hundreds of thousands of motor vehicle crashes resulting in tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths every year. And even if the crash is minor and does not cause any personal injury, a tree can cause thousands of dollars in vehicle damage. Also, you could be issued a ticket for failing to properly secure your load.

Christmas trees falling in the road aren’t the only thing that we need to avoid when driving in Vermont. In one of our most recent cases, our client was proceeding in an easterly direction on Route 15 at Willow Crossing in Johnson, Vermont. A large cardboard box that had been used for either a washing machine or a dryer flew out of the pickup truck in front of him. Our client was on a motorcycle and was unable to avoid the box. He crashed and suffered serious but non-fatal injuries. The operator of the truck was given a ticket for failing to secure a load and his insurance company took full responsibility for the personal injuries to our client and paid for his motorcycle which was totaled in the crash.

So, back to what you can do about safely hauling your Christmas tree home. AAA recommends that you do the following:

●Choose the correct vehicle, such as one with a roof rack, a pickup truck or a vehicle large enough so that it can be properly secured.

●If you don’t have a car with a roof rack or have access to a truck, transport the tree inside your car or trunk.

●Wrap the tree netting to secure loose branches.

●Put an old blanket on the roof of your vehicle, and put the tree on top with its trunk facing the windshield.

●Take your own rope or ratchet straps to secure the tree at the front, middle and back, using tie-down points built into your vehicle. Loop the rope or strap around the tree’s trunk to prevent shifting.