DRIVERS bringing back their Christmas trees during the festive season have been urged to take care while moving it – or risk a £5k fine.
Taking a fresh pine tree home can be the highlight of Christmas for many families but it could end up in tears if you end up with a motoring offence for the trouble.
Motorists could be charged with “causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load or passengers” which can result in three penalty points on your licence.
Those points could follow you around for four to eleven years, which is a bah humbug for the festive season.
Drivers could also face a £5,000 fine for “careless and inconsiderate” driving in addition to the three points for that indiscretion.
But drivers are not the only ones who could face a punishment for the extra load, excess weight cause long-term damage to the brakes, suspension and drivetrain of the car.
Goodbye Car Expert Mark Royal, says: “Driving your Christmas tree home is an important one to get right for the safety of yourself and others, but with the right knowledge, it shouldn’t be a difficult job.
“Fines can easily be avoided if you properly secure the tree to the roof of your car.”
A RAC survey from 2018 also found that 75 per cent of drivers didn’t know the rules around transporting the large Christmas loads.
And 6 per cent of motorists admitting to having their tree hanging out of their car, while 5 per cent confessed to strapping their car to their roof.
Driving home for Christmas could also land you with a hefty £5k fine if you are belting out festive bangers.
You can also be fined the same amount for wearing your festive party outfits behind the wheel – if it could impede your ability to drive.
Failure to have proper control of your vehicle could lead to a maximum fine of £5,000 and a discretionary disqualification and nine points on your licence.
Decorating your car can also lead to fines, and could even invalidate your insurance and result in driving bans.
Despite not being illegal, experts recommend lights, reindeer antlers, ribbons and tinsel should all be avoided inside and outside of your vehicle this Christmas.
If your view out of the windscreen is obscured, it can lead to three points and up to £1,000 in fines.
Fairy lights in your car can also be very dangerous and can confuse road users and cause collisions.
TOP TIPS FOR TRANSPORTING YOUR TREE
Goodbye Car Experts have pulled together their tricks for driving safely with a Christmas tree:
1. Buy a netted tree
Most places that sell Christmas trees know to provide the tree wrapped in a net. If they’re not already netted, this is a service you should be able to ask for. Netting the tree makes sure that it’s a much more manageable package to transport!
2. Face the tree stump to the front
It’s unlikely, unless you buy a really small tree, that you’ll be able to fit your Christmas tree in your car. The best way to position the tree on top of your car is lengthways, with the stump facing the front of the car. This limits wind resistance due to the angle of the branches.
3. Use a roof rack
A roof rack is one of the safest ways to attach your Christmas tree to the roof of your car. You’ll need to use bungee cords or ropes to secure the tree tightly to the roof, then tie the ropes to the roof rack. Make sure the tree is secured right from the bottom branches to the tip of the tree.
4. No roof rack? Use your car doors
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have a roof rack – car doors can be used as another way to safely secure your Christmas tree within the law. Instead of attaching the ropes to a roof rack, open the car doors and tie the ropes inside the car. Once the car doors are closed, it should secure the ropes even further.
5. Attach reflective tags to an overhanging tree
Depending on the size of the tree, your car roof may not be long enough to accommodate it. If this is the case, and the tip of your Christmas tree is hanging over the back of your car, make sure that you attach reflective tags so that other motorists and road users can see how much room to give you.
6. Drive more cautiously than usual
Transporting heavy cargo like a Christmas tree should have an impact on how you drive. Be careful in particular when taking corners and keep well back from other vehicles to avoid braking sharply – both of which could dislodge the tree from your car roof and be classed as driving dangerously.