Imagine that you and your family drive to a local Christmas tree farm to select the lushest, sturdiest Douglas fir on the lot. You chop it down, strap it to the roof of your car and start heading back home.

And suddenly – whoosh.

Winter winds unlatch the six-foot holiday centerpiece, and it goes tumbling down the highway into unsuspecting traffic. While the scenario may seem extreme, it's certainly possible.


An estimated 200,000 Americans who purchased a live holiday tree in the last four years caused crashes after failing to properly secure it to their vehicle, according to a recent AAA consumer report.

Approximately 39,000 people have been injured by the prickly projectiles and 500 people have died, AAA reports. Still, there are several precautions you can take to make sure your perfect tree actually makes it to your living room.

The German automaker Volkswagen offers the following tips and tricks:

1. Take measurements.

Write down the size of the roof area or back seat of the car, but keep in mind that holiday trees can be deceptively wide. “You may underestimate how much room you actually have,” said Robert Gal, a senior manager of performance and accessories at Volkswagen.

2. Bring the right supplies.

If you're securing the tree to the roof of your car, be sure to have crossbars or roof rails installed to keep it in place, Volkswagen suggests. Bars can help protect your car's paint job from scratches and rails will add additional support.

Lightweight twine might not be safe enough to secure the tree to your car, and twine that passes between door jams and open windows can damage your car. AAA suggests bringing strong rope, ratchet straps, an old blanket and gloves.

3. Securely load your tree.

Have the tree netted before you leave the lot to make it more manageable. And always travel with the bottom of the tree trunk facing the front of the vehicle while transporting on the roof and within the cabin.

4. Test it.

Before you leave the lot, give the tree a firm pull from various directions to make sure it is properly secured. If the tree budges, use ratcheting straps to make it more secure.


5. Drive cautiously.

Avoid driving at high speeds which can create airflows that damage the tree or challenge your tied-down methods. And keep an eye out for potholes and bumps. Also, try to avoid hard braking, and accelerating quickly.