Drivers are being warned that they could be hit with hefty fines and points on the licence if they don’t transport their Christmas tree safely.
As the country gears up for the festivities and families engage in the annual tradition of picking out a tree, three quarters of drivers admit to being hazy on the rules regarding getting a tree home.
Carrying an unsecured or dangerously loaded cargo is against the law and carries a range of punishment whether the load is building materials or some festive decoration.
Driving an overloaded vehicle carries a spot fine of at least £100 and three penalty points but the punishment can be much harsher if police rule that your car is “causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load”. In that situation you could be taken to court and fined up to £2,500 as well as getting three penalty points.
According to a poll of drivers by van maker Fiat Professional, 75 per cent of motorists are unaware of the rules regarding transporting Christmas trees safely on the road.
The Highway Code states: “You MUST NOT overload your vehicle or trailer.
“You MUST secure your load and it MUST NOT stick out dangerously. Make sure any heavy or sharp objects and any animals are secured safely.”
That means strapping it down properly and making sure it doesn’t obscure your vision. If the tree overhangs the vehicle, the Highway Code makes it clear you must attach a reflective flag to the end of it.
The survey found that six per cent of motorists admitted they had transported a tree in a manner which might have broken the rules and an astonishing 25 per cent admit to just ‘throwing it in the car’ and not securing it.
A further five per cent carry the tree home on the roof of their car, irrespective of whether they have a roof rack, securing it with rope or ratchet straps.