Secure your Christmas tree while driving home

After choosing that perfect Christmas tree, take precautions to ensure your tree makes it home with you.

Troopers get several calls during the holiday season to remove trees that have fallen on roads. If your vehicle loses a tree, you could get slapped with a ticket for $216 for failing to secure your load — or even face criminal charges if your tree contributes to an accident, Washington State Patrol trooper Keith Leary said.

“We don’t want to be the Grinch, but we will write you that ticket,” Leary said. “Our main reason is to prevent collisions from happening.”

To avoid any trouble, make sure your tree is tied down properly if you are transporting it on the top of your vehicle. If your tree is in the bed of a pickup truck, you still need to secure it. Always have extra rope on hand.

If your tree is sticking out in the back of your car, attach a small piece of red cloth or a flag to the end. That will caution other drivers, Leary said.

Remember that a lost tree may trigger a chain of events that could cause a deadly crash, he said. If you see a tree on the roadway in front of you, avoid hitting it if you can, but make sure it’s safe to do so first, Leary said.

“It’s better to hit it than to take evasive action that will cause you to lose control,” he said.

Reporter Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452 or kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

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