Choosing a Christmas tree is among the highlights of the festive season for many families but often the issue of getting that tree home is less joyful and more painful.
Most cars simply aren’t designed to transport chunks of forest around and failing to make sure your tree is properly prepared and secured is not only potentially dangerous but could carry a fine of up to £5,000.
There are no specific regulations on transporting a tree but if police decide that its weight, position or securings aren’t suitable you could be charged with “causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load or passengers”. That offence carries a fixed punishment of three penalty points.
If the tree affects your ability to drive properly you could also be charged with careless or inconsiderate driving, which attracts three penalty points and carries a fine of up to £5,000 depending on the offence.
So here’s how to stay safe and on the right side of the law
Buy a netted tree
Having a tree that’s neatly wrapped up makes life a lot easier when trying to get it into or onto your car, so ask for this to be done if it isn’t already.
It makes it easier to handle and is less likely to cause an obstruction or damage while you are driving.
Choose your tree carefully
As well as checking your Christmas tree will fit in your home you need to check it will fit in or on your car safely.
If you are putting the tree inside your car make sure it’s well secured and can’t move around. It’s important that it doesn’t interfere in any way with your ability to drive, so make sure it doesn’t restrict your ability to use the steering wheel, gears, indicators or mirrors.
If you are putting it on your car roof make sure it doesn’t obscure your view and that it’s well tied down.
Use a roof rack
If your tree isn’t going to fit in your car it’s best to use a roof rack and ropes or bungee cords to secure it tightly. Tie it down at multiple points along its length to make sure it can’t move around.
Make sure you put it with the stump facing the front of the car to limit wind resistance and, if it overhangs the car you must attach reflective tags to ensure other drivers can see it.
If you don’t have a roof rack, open the doors and loop the ropes tightly through the car then clamp them in place with the doors. Again, make sure to secure the tree at multiple points along its length.
Drive with care
Whether your tree is inside or on top of the car it’s important to take things a little slower and more carefully. Sharp acceleration, braking or steering could dislodge the tree and cause injury or damage, so take things a little slower and be aware of the added weight of the tree.