HOUSTON (KIAH) – It’s one of the favorite family traditions this time of year, picking out the prized Christmas tree. However, things can turn dangerous quickly if you don’t properly plan before picking the tree out.

AAA Texas has the following tips for drivers to remember:

  • Plan Ahead – bring along the most appropriate vehicle to transport the tree.
  • Wrapping and Covering – prior to loading the tree, cover the roof with an old blanket to prevent scratches to the paint and protect the car from any damage.
  • Trunk First – place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of the truck with the trunk facing the front of the car.
  • Securing – tie down the tree at its bottom, center and top using strong rope or nylon ratchet straps.
  • Testing – once tied down, give the tree several strong tugs from various angles to make sure it is secured in place and will not come loose.
  • Nice and Easy – drive slowly and take back roads if possible.

If a tree is improperly secured to a car, AAA says it can cost drivers as much as $1,500 in repairs. 

“Improperly secured Christmas trees are a danger to everyone on the road and cause significant damage to a vehicle,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “While most commercial tree lots will have employees to assist you with safely securing your tree before you bring it home, as the vehicle owner you are responsible if the tree causes damage, so you should be familiar with the proper way to secure it.”