- Tie down that tree or face a possibly giant fine
- Most drivers are unaware of safe-loading laws
- Only 40% admitted not securing their tree at all
LONDON, England – About 75% of vehicle owners in the UK have little or no idea about the laws covering the safe road transport of a Christmas tree, according to a survey.
The same probably applies in South Africa when mom and dad haul out in the family bakkie or car to go get their little fir tree.
A survey by Fiat Professional in the UK found about half of tree-buyers were planning on a ”live” as against a plastic bush to stand in a corner of the lounge and be decorated with the traditional baubles and fake candles.
However, how the tree is taken home could land the driver with three penalty points on their (British) driving licence, or an unlimited fine. And apparently only 25% of those polled knew the highway code rules about the matter.
Fiat Professional research showed only 25% of British adults claimed to know the rules. While there is no specific mention of the festive firs in the Highway Code, there is a section about loading a vehicle correctly and safely – appropriate at Yuletide.
DON’T LET IT ALL HANG OUT
A government Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency spokesman said: “A dangerously loaded vehicle will incur an instant three penalty points, along with an uncapped fine.”
Around six percent of drivers admitted having transported a tree hanging it out of their vehicle; an astonishing 25% admitted ”just throwing it in the car’ – unsecured. Another five percent tied the bush to the roof, even without a roof rack.
When the tree is longer than the vehicle, the Highway Code clearly states, the overhanging load should feature a reflective flag to warn other drivers and must not obscure the driver’s vision of the road.
Which is where Fiat gets in its plug: ”Drivers of the new Fiat Professional Fullback and Fullback Cross,” the automaker said, ”won’t have this problem. With comfortable seating for five and a cargo bed space of 1520mm (length) and 1470mm (width), the whole family can go out to get the traditional Christmas tree and bring it home safely and legally.”
Richard Chamberlain from Fiat Professional UK added: “The Highway Code clearly states that drivers must not overload a vehicle and must secure any load so that it doesn’t stick out dangerously.
“The Fiat Fullback will certainly give owners plenty of space to carry a large tree, even if it has to be tied down, which can be done easily and safely with the Fullback’s load bed. A bonus is that drivers won’t get stuck in the snow if it’s a white Christmas. The Fullback comes with 4×4 transmission – and a diff lock on the Cross versions.”