Holiday time in Arizona is filled with plenty of festive traditions, from decking the halls with oversized decorations to choosing a new Christmas tree to finding that perfect family present. Press Release

Don’t Be a Grinch, Secure Your Load This Holiday Season


PHOENIX (November 28, 2023) – Holiday time in Arizona is filled with plenty of festive traditions, from decking the halls with oversized decorations to choosing a new Christmas tree to finding that perfect family present. One tradition that you don’t need to take part in is letting that Christmas tree slide off the roof of your car, or worse, having a brand new big-screen TV or mattress fall out of the back of your vehicle and injure someone driving behind you.

Don’t Trash Arizona* and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) encourage you to secure your load when traveling this holiday season. With several weeks of giving and driving upon us, now is the time to exercise greater caution on the roads. According to AAA, there will be a three percent increase in holiday travel this year. That means more drivers will be hauling trees, big-screen TVs, appliances, tools and other large items. For drivers on Arizona highways and the first responders who help on the scene, this means a greater risk of crashes and injuries from holiday hauls gone wrong.

“Unsecured loads pose serious safety risks for the motoring public as well as the troopers who respond to clear objects out of the roadway,” said Sgt. Eric Andrews of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “We don’t want a merry season to turn into tragedy. By taking a few minutes to properly secure your load, you can help ensure everyone gets home safely this holiday season.”

There were more than 800 crashes related to unsecured loads last year. Here are a few tips for securing your holiday tree and large loads.

  • Call 9-1-1 to report road hazards: Your tip to first responders can help prevent hazards this season. If you notice a likely road hazard, report it to protect other travelers.
  • Tie it Down: When you transport your tree or gift, it must be strapped down. For trees, this is easier when the branches are first tied down around the tree. Once the tree is held tightly together, drivers should securely strap the tree directly to their vehicles with rope, bungee cords, or netting. The tree, just like any large load, should be able to withstand winds up to 70 miles per hour while on the freeway. Often, twine available at Christmas tree lots is not strong enough to be safe. Large loads like appliances and packages should also be securely strapped down.
  • Cover it Up: Drivers should cover the tree with a sturdy tarp, canvas, or netting to ensure smaller clippings and branches do not fly off while traveling. It's important to remember to secure the tarp to the vehicle so it does not become litter debris. You can use tarps and nets to cover other large or loose loads as well.
  • Point it in the Right Direction: To avoid added headwind, which may loosen the branches, drivers should arrange the tree so that the stump end faces the front of the vehicle. As a courtesy to others, trees that extend past the vehicle’s bumper should have a reflective or red flag tied to the end to alert other drivers.
  • Double Check: Loads can shift, and tie downs may become loose during transit. Remember to check the load frequently to make sure the top, back, and sides are all secured throughout the trip. In addition to strong winds, the load should be able to withstand sudden braking and hitting bumps while on the road.
  • Ask Yourself: "Is there any chance of debris falling or blowing out of my vehicle?" "Would I feel safe if I was driving behind my vehicle?" "What would happen to my load if I had to brake suddenly or if I hit a bump?"

Don’t Trash Arizona reminds you to plan this holiday season for a safe, festive celebration.

Note to media: We can arrange on-location or in-studio demonstrations for safely securing large items and road safety tips to avoid collisions due to loose debris.