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Safely Secure Your Live Christmas Tree for the Trip Home, Keep the Holiday Spirit

AAA Washington shares tips to prevent your tree from Fa La La La-lying Off Your Car

Visuals: b-roll shows wrong way & right way to safely secure a tree for transport

BELLEVUE, Wash. — The search for a perfect Christmas tree is a long-held tradition for many families. While finding the right tree can be difficult, getting it home safely can be a bigger challenge. If not properly secured, a tree can damage a vehicle with paint scratches, torn door seals or distorted window frames. Even worse, it could fly off or out of the vehicle, become a danger to other drivers, and cause a crash.

AAA Washington has some tips to help ensure your Christmas tree makes it home to be trimmed:

  • Plan Ahead – before heading out to buy a real Christmas tree, make sure to bring strong rope or ratchet straps, an old blanket, gloves and of course – the right vehicle. One with a roof rack is ideal but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well. Consider borrowing or renting the proper vehicle if you don’t have one.
  • Wrap & Cover It – once you find the perfect tree, have the lot wrap it in netting. Secure loose branches with rope or twine to help protect the tree. Prior to loading, cover the vehicle roof with an old blanket to prevent paint scratches and protect car from any damage.
  • Trunk First – place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of a truck with the tree trunk facing the front of the car. If the vehicle does not have a roof rack and is large enough – place the tree inside.
  • Secure It – tie down the tree at its bottom, center and top using strong rope or nylon ratchet straps. Avoid using the nylon offered by many tree lots. Use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop the rope or strap around the tree trunk above a branch to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement.
  • Tug Test – once tied down, give the tree several strong tugs from various angles to make sure it is secure and will not come loose.
  • Nice & Easy – drive slowly and take low-speed limit roads if possible. Higher speeds create significant airflow that can damage your tree or defeat the best tie-down methods.

Start your holiday season off right by getting your real Christmas tree home safely! Choosing not to properly secure your load could hurt your holiday spending plans. The fine for failing to secure a load is $228 in Washington, $150 for a first offence in Idaho. If an item falls out and causes bodily harm or property damage in Washington, a driver faces gross misdemeanor charges, penalties of up to $5,000 and/or up to a year in jail.

About AAA Washington:

AAA Washington was established in 1904 by 10 prominent Seattleites determined to champion the betterment of motoring conditions and laws; the preservation of Washington state’s natural beauty; and the promotion of Washington as an unrivaled tourist destination. More than a century later, the club continues to pursue these on behalf of its 1.2 million members. 

AAA Washington provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps, and personalized trip planning, to members. AAA was recently named one of the most trusted travel and automotive brands in the U.S. Additional information is available through the company’s stores in Washington and northern Idaho, at, or by calling 1-800-562-2582. 

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit

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Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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