PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s that magical moment when, after scouring the Christmas tree lot or farm, you lay eyes on the perfect one. It’s big, it’s green, it’s full, the needles are perfect, yes, it’s the one.
In the holiday classic, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” size didn’t stop Clark Griswold, and, just last week, it didn’t stop a guy in Sudbury, Massachusetts.
The picture of an oversized tree strapped to the top of the man’s SUV, so big it was obstructing the view from the windshield, was picked up by news outlets nationwide after Sudbury Police pulled the driver over.
Now, Pennsylvania State Police and AAA are urging everyone – make sure your tree is properly secured before driving home.
First and foremost, consider the car.
“Any kind of vehicle that has the roof rack, that’s going to be your best bet,” said Jim Garrity, a AAA spokesman.
Don’t have a car with a roof rack?
“Theoretically, you’d have to put the ropes or the straps or whatever it is holding it down, through an open window, or you’d have to close the door on it,” said Garrity.
You could have the kids hold on to the twine as demonstrated in a YouTube video, but they were none too happy to be doing it.
“Not only is that unsafe for you, you could be putting yourself in a position where you damage the doors, the frames, the seals, and that could be an expensive fix,” Garrity said.
So roof rack is the way to go. If not, go with an SUV or van where the tree will fit inside or a pickup truck.
And bring your own supplies, like quality rope or ratchet straps.
“Often times the twine they give you at the tree farm is not going to cut it. You want to make sure that you have something stronger,” Garrity said.
And put it to the test before you hit the road.
“Give it a look-over,” added Garrity. “Make sure you don’t see anything that’s sticking off or you think might be in a position where it would come off. Give it a nice tug in a couple of directions, that way you have an idea of – when the wind hits it – whether or not it might go in one direction or another.”
AAA says in the past few years more than 200,000 crashes were the result of road debris, and two-thirds were the result of improperly secured items falling off vehicles.
So be safe, be responsible and be courteous of other drivers.