2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
Fir trees and bulky gifts cause transport problems during Advent. A few precautions will make the laden journey safer.
By Heiko Haupt
Some things seem to never change. Traditionally, there is a certain state of emergency on the streets from the run-up to Christmas to the turn of the year: In the city centers, the columns of vehicles push their way through narrow streets looking for a parking space, and even with modern cars, a Christmas tree is still transported as it has been the custom for decades. What has also not changed for years is the fact that, in view of the Christmas stress, some important basic rules of driving have been pushed into the background. It starts with the actually simple Christmas tree transport.
How does the tree fit in the car?
"When transporting Christmas trees, basically the same problems arise every year," says Marion Steinbach, spokeswoman for the German Transport Authority (DVW) in Bonn. They usually refer to a tree growing into a stature that wasn't designed to fit in a car. This then leads to the questions: Should the tree be in the trunk? Should it be on the back of the station wagon? Or is it better to transport it on the roof?
The answer is: It depends on the individual case - and the rules of the road traffic regulations must be considered, even if only a short distance is to be driven. If the tree is stuffed in the trunk, there are a number of things to consider. “The license plate and all lights must not be covered during transport,” warns Roger Eggers from TÜV Nord in Hanover. "Indicators and brake lights in particular must be clearly recognizable." There is one more thing to consider: "If the tree protrudes more than a meter over the rear of the car, a red warning cloth must be attached at the end," says Sven Rademacher from the German Road Safety Council (DVR) in Bonn.
In such a case, the safety precautions have to be even more extensive in the dark: "When driving in the dark, the tree protruding over the stern must also be identified by an additional light and a red reflector," explains Marion Steinbach. The regulation should not be underestimated - after all, it gets dark in December at around 4 p.m.
Tip to the rear for roof transport
When transporting trees on the roof, there are also a few things to consider: "The tree has to be transported with the point backwards," says Maximilian Maurer, spokesman for the ADAC in Munich. This is the only way for the wind to blow over the tree without brushing the branches "against the grain" and breaking them off. It is also important to ensure that the load is properly secured. When stowing in the interior of a station wagon or van, however, according to Maurer, the point should point to the front - so the thicker end of the tree does not obstruct the view. Because, according to Roger Eggers, the exterior mirrors must remain in view. Maurer also advises covering the interior with plastic film to avoid resin stains on the upholstery.
However, the Christmas tree is not the only road safety issue at Christmas time. Marion Steinbach points out that the anticipation of the festival cannot be expressed by setting up an electrically lit mini-tree in the car. “These trees are forbidden in the vehicle because they irritate oncoming traffic and impair the driver's view,” warns the DVW spokeswoman.
Another typical Christmas project is the transport of gifts in the car. It is dangerous to carelessly store the parcels and packages in the interior. Because even around Christmas, emergency braking may be necessary. Marion Steinbach explains the risk using an example: "Even when braking from 50 km / h, a simple book on the rear shelf of the car can weigh 30 kilograms if it is thrown forward."
Good nerves on New Year's Eve
It is therefore better to transport gifts in the trunk - where the basic rule applies that heavy luggage should go down and light luggage up. Maximilian Maurer has another tip especially for presents that have already been wrapped: “If these presents slide back and forth loosely in the trunk, the wrapping paper can quickly be damaged. It is better to stow them in baskets or a plastic tub, for example."
When the Christmas days are unscathed, the next festival with its special characteristics follows: New Year's Eve. According to Sven Rademacher, alcohol in the blood and driving a car are not compatible. But even when sober, you should consider whether the car is really needed. “There is a risk, for example, that you will be frightened by loud firecrackers or the like while driving,” says Marion Steinbach - which can then trigger unforeseen and risky reactions on the steering wheel.
The all-clear, however, with regard to possible damage to the car itself. According to Maximilian Maurer, for example, falling rockets should not damage the car because of their low weight - this is only to be feared if fireworks are ignited directly on the paint.
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