JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With the Christmas season here, leaders with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) shared some tips to make sure your Christmas tree makes it home safely.

Research from AAA showed that road debris from unsecured loads like Christmas trees was responsible for more than 200,000 crashes, during a four-year period, resulting in about 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.

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. Drivers responsible for debris from unsecured loads could face fines up to $500 and up to six months in prison.

Whether your tree is freshly cut from the farm or purchased from a vendor, MDOT leaders recommend the following steps to transport it safely:

  • Use an appropriate vehicle. Christmas trees can be securely tied to roof racks. If you don’t have a 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.