JACKSON, MISS. – With Christmas season here, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants you to make sure your perfect Christmas tree makes it home by properly securing it to your vehicle.
“Unsecured Christmas trees can easily put your safety, and the safety of other motorists, at risk,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT Executive Director. “Trees could become airborne and strike another vehicle. They could also come to rest in the road, creating a hazard for everyone.”
Road debris from unsecured loads, such as Christmas trees, was responsible for more than 19,000 injuries and 680 deaths across the country in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In addition to being a safety hazard, debris from unsecured loads contributes to roadside litter which costs Mississippi over $3 million a year to remove.
Motorists responsible for debris from unsecured loads could face fines up to $500 and up to six months in prison. “The holiday season should be a joyous time of year,” McGrath said. “Keep the cheer alive and keep everyone safe by securely bringing your Christmas tree home.”
Whether your tree is fresh-cut from the farm or purchased from a vendor, you can safely transport it by taking the following steps: Use an appropriate vehicle. Christmas trees can be securely tied to roof racks.
If you don’t have a roof rack, use the bed of a truck or the inside of an SUV or van. Tie the tree down with strong rope or nylon straps at several points along the trunk.
Lightweight twine found at many tree lots may not be strong enough.
The bottom of the trunk should point toward the front of the vehicle. Secure loose branches with netting, rope or twine.
Always double check the load to make sure it is secure. Drive slowly. Higher speeds create air resistance which can cause tie-downs to fail.
To learn more about travel safety, visit GoMDOT.com/DriveSmartMS, download the MDOT Traffic mobile app and follow @MississippiDOT on Facebook and Twitter.