Based on an AAA survey, approximately 44% of Americans who intend on purchasing a living Christmas tree will fail to adequately secure the tree while taking it home. This statistic remains high even though over 10% of the people who responded to this survey report previously having trees fall off their vehicles while transporting the tree.
Additional data compiled by AAA reveals that obstacles in the road led to approximately 200,000 crashes as well as around 39,000 injuries and 500 fatalities in the last four years. Approximately two-thirds of these motor vehicle accidents were the result of objects including Christmas trees coming off of vehicles while they were in motion.
When Christmas trees result in crashes either by falling off of one vehicle and into the path of another or by falling off one vehicle and causing another vehicle to either brake or swerve to avoid colliding with the tree, the driver of the improperly secured tree can end up facing liability for the resulting damage. New York as well as most other states have laws that penalize drivers who fail to secure items transported by the vehicle from falling or shifting off of the vehicle.
Only Transport Trees on Vehicles with Roof Racks
If a vehicle is not equipped with a roof rack and you must transport a tree, you should either place it inside a truck or the interior of a van provided the tree can fit into the vehicle with all of its doors closed. To avoid taking home a tree that is too big for your vehicle, you should make sure to measure the inside of your vehicle before going to pick up a tree. Then, when selecting a tree, you should consider how you will get the tree to the top of your vehicle as well as how you will later take the tree down.
If your vehicle is not fit with a roof rack and does not have a big enough cargo bed (or a cargo bed at all) to transport a tree, you should consider other options to transport your tree including having it delivered.
Remember, if your vehicle is not equipped with a roof rack, tying a tree to the vehicle’s roof means that the tree will not be as securely attached and has a much greater risk of coming off while being transported.
Cover the Tree in a Blanket or Tarp
While most tree farms offer to wrap your tree in netting so the branches will remain secured, wrapping a tree in an additional blanket or tarp will also help to protect the interior as well as paint of your vehicles from getting damaged by the tree through scraping as well as fallen needles and sap. If a tree is not placed in netting, a tarp is the only thing that will keep the branches bound. Tarps make trees easier to transport as well as help to reduce wind resistance and reduce the risk that the tree will hurt passengers if the tree is moved while inside the vehicle.
Always Drive Cautiously
Avoid highways as well as congested streets whenever possible when transporting a tree. You should make sure to drive at a reduced speed because speeding can lead to greater airflow around the tree and potentially damage it. Furthermore, if you are not experienced with driving while cargo is secured to the roof rack, you should make sure to utilize a high degree of caution because cargo secured to a roof can substantially change how a vehicle is handled. Transporting cargo on a vehicle’s roof can also substantially increase a driver’s chances of losing control of a vehicle and ending up in a crash if the driver needs to stop or brake quickly.
Be Prepared to Routinely Stop to Inspect the Tree
If it’s a long trip to transport your tree, you should make sure to pull over at least once during your trip to inspect the tree. When you perform this inspection, you should make sure that the tree has not shifted in transit and that the ropes have not become unloosened.
Adequately Securing the Tree
Whether you’re transporting a tree on a roof rack, in the bed of a pickup, or inside a vehicle, you should follow some important advice while transporting a tree. Some of the pieces of safety advice that you should follow include:
- If you’re using roof racks, point the tree so the tree’s trunk faces your vehicle’s front. If the tree’s top faces the wind, a chance exists that the wind could lift the lighter portion of the tree, shift it, or fully blow off the vehicle. Wind can also heavily damage a tree’s branches, which means that the tree you bring home can end up unsightly.
- Bring your own material to tie down the tree, which might include rope. Many tree lots offer twine that is too lightweight to be helpful.
- Using fixed vehicle tie-down points make sure to secure the tree by the bottom as well as at the top.
- After securing a tree to your vehicle, tug on the rope used to secure the tree to make sure that it doesn’t shift from side to side or from front to back.
What to do if You’ve Been Injured in a Crash Caused by Road Debris
At the Law Office of Cohen and Jaffe LLP, our Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer appreciate just how uncomfortable it is to drive behind a vehicle with cargo that is either hanging out of an open truck or extending past the edges of the roof. After all, if the driver does not properly secure the cargo, it could fly off and strike your vehicle. While this risk does not always result in crashes, unfortunately, it does lead to many accidents each year.
If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of another person’s negligence, our attorneys will do everything possible to make sure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation. Following car crashes that lead to injuries, you should not hesitate to schedule a free case evaluation with our Long Island personal injury lawyers.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information and may not be applicable in your jurisdiction.