A pine-scented air freshener is one thing, but a new survey suggests three quarters of UK motorists have no idea what to do when safely transporting the real thing.

With the festive period already upon us, a survey of 500 households by Fiat Professional found 75% of drivers don’t know the rules on transporting large loads like Christmas trees.

A worrying 6% of motorists admit to having had a Christmas tree precariously hanging out of their vehicle, despite the obvious dangers.

A further 5% confess to simply strapping their tree to the roof of their car, even if they don’t have a roof rack.

According to the Highway Code, drivers must ensure they don’t overload their vehicles, while safely securing any load so it doesn’t stick out dangerously.

If a Christmas tree is longer than the vehicle carrying it, then a reflective flag should be attached to the overhanging end to alert other road users.

Any motorist caught ignoring these rules on overloading could be charged with ‘causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load or passengers’ and slapped with three penalty points and a fine.

And drivers don’t only face punishments — excess weight can also cause long-term damage to the brakes, suspension and drivetrain of the vehicle.

How to transport a Christmas tree safely:

  • Measure the height of the room where you intend to display the tree beforehand, to make sure you get the right one
  • Most places will sell trees in nets or even net them up for you, so make the most of this service and ensure yours is netted before getting it anywhere near your car
  • If your tree won’t fit inside your car you’ll need to attach it to your roof, so limit wind resistance (and potential damage) by putting the stump end towards the front
  • Using bungee cords or ropes, secure the tree tightly to your roof rack from the bottom branches to the tip. If you don’t have a roof rack, open your car doors and strap the tree to the roof that way, closing your doors to secure it
  • If your tree overhangs, be sure to attach a reflective flag to the tip of the tree to alert other road users
  • When transporting a heavier load than normal, drive carefully, taking corners slowly and ensuring you don’t brake sharply
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