O Christmas tree, don’t fall off my SUV

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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
You just fell off my SUV
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
I lost you on Loop 303
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
What will I tell my family?

Don’t be the unlucky Christmas tree buyer whose tree falls off a vehicle only moments after strapping it to your vehicle’s roof. Set aside the embarrassment or wasted expense, because Christmas trees that fall off vehicles are a serious safety hazard that drivers should plan to avoid before bringing their trees home this holiday season.

Every December, crews with the Arizona Department of Transportation remove trees that became hazards after they weren’t properly secured to a vehicle and fell to the roadway. Those dislodged spruces or firs can become obstacles that trigger crashes as drivers swerve to miss the detached trees.

ADOT reminds drivers to make sure they’ll get home with their tree — and without putting others at risk.

Whether you have a permit to cut down your own tree from a national forest or you’re buying one that’s already been cut, make sure to pack strong rope, tie-downs or nylon ratchet strips. Trees wrapped with netting are easier to secure to a vehicle’s roof, so consider having it wrapped or bring your own materials.

When placing the tree on a vehicle, point the top to the back of the vehicle. Then strap the tree near its base, close to the top and in the tree’s middle. Tug on the tree to test your work. Pull from different angles to ensure it’s snug, and make adjustments if needed.

While Christmas trees are only a roadway hazard for a limited time of the year, they are part of a larger problem with roadway debris. Nationally, debris-related crashes cause more than 51,000 crashes a year. According to the Maricopa Association of Governments, more than 800 debris-related crashes were recorded in Arizona in 2017, including one fatality.

Drivers who see Christmas trees or other objects on a road should call 911 to report the hazards so they can be removed.