Beware of flying trees this holiday season

BCAA offers tips to get that tree home safely

BURNABY, BC, Dec. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - A Christmas tree may be pretty in the living room, but it can be dangerous when transported incorrectly. As B.C. residents prepare for the holidays, the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) warns that transporting a poorly secured tree can turn into a serious road hazard, endangering other drivers.

"Even if it's a short trip from the tree lot to home, motorists need to think about the safety of themselves and others, says Ken Cousin, associate vice president of BCAA Road Assist. "A lot can happen in a short trip. An unsecured load can shift, making the car difficult to drive or steer, or the tree can fall or be catapulted from the vehicle endangering others."

According to Cousin, ratchet straps are the most effective way to secure a Christmas tree. In a collision, bungee cords can fail miserably. In a crash test study conducted by German Automobile Club, Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC), bungee cords used to secure a Christmas tree were shredded upon impact. Cousin strongly advises using ratchet style tie-downs to keep the tree tight and secure.

A study by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that vehicle-related road debris causes approximately 25,000 collisions and close to 100 deaths each year in North America. Unsecured items that become debris include mattresses, home furnishings, and building materials. According to ADAC, when objects travelling at 50 km per hour come to a sudden stop, they can take on 25 times their own weight. A 30 kg tree, for example, would hit its target with the force of an object that weighs a whopping 750 kg.

"People may think that it's no big deal to throw a tree or any large object on the roof or in the back of a vehicle and that nothing will happen, but they're wrong. We encourage people to come to the tree lot prepared and ensure the tree is tightly in place before they drive away."

BCAA will demonstrate how to safely secure a Christmas tree on Thursday, December 5th at 10:00 am at the Aunt Leah's tree lot located at the St. Stephen's United Church, 54th and Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C. - Map.

BCAA offers the following tips to get that tree home safely this holiday season:

Vehicle roof transport

  • With the base of the tree facing forward, sling ratchet straps around the base, middle and tip of the tree then fasten to the roof rack. This should prevent lateral movement in the event of wind or a hard stop.
  • The tree should be secured according to Division 35 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.

Trunk or seat back transport

  • The base of the tree, when possible, should lean up against the back seat or back-rest.
  • It should then be fastened to the trunk floor with ratchet straps. The rear door or trunk should also be secured tightly down so that it doesn't fly open.

Tree transport driving tips

  • Stay a safe distance back from traffic and drive within the posted speed limit.
  • Use your turn signals. Ensure they're working properly and that they can be seen.
  • Trees that extend more than one metre beyond the front of the car, or more than a half metre at the rear, must have a flag attached during the day and lamps at night. Visit Division 4.20 in the BC Motor Vehicle Act Regulations for details on the use of lamps or flags on front and rear projections.

For a detailed list of tips on how to safely secure and transport a Christmas tree, and for other tips on keeping your vehicle and home safe during the holidays, visit bcaa.com/holidaysafety.

About BCAA
BCAA is one of the most trusted organizations in British Columbia, serving one in four B.C. households. With over 800,000 Members, BCAA provides an array of home, auto and travel insurance services, and is renowned for its legendary roadside assistance. J.D. Power has ranked BCAA "Highest In Customer Satisfaction among Home Insurance Providers in Western Canada" two years in a row (2012 and 2013) - details at jdpower.com. Now in its 107th year, BCAA has over $460 million in annual sales, 27 locations and over 900 employees. To learn more about the benefits of BCAA Membership, visit bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Road Safety Foundation visit bcaaroadsafety.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

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For further information, or to request an interview, please contact:

Niela Melanio
BCAA Communication Specialist
Office: 604-268-5342
Cell: 778-228-8859
Email: niela.melanio@bcaa.com