NEW YORK (WWTI) — AAA is urging drivers who are transporting Christmas trees this year to use caution and make sure they are following the proper techniques to avoid damage to their vehicles or other drivers.

If a tree isn’t properly secured during transport, it can cause vehicle damage or fly off or out of the vehicle, becoming a danger to other drivers.

More than 40% of Americans planning to purchase a real Christmas tree would transport the tree using unsafe methods, according to research from AAA. AAA says of the 44%, 20% would tie the tree to the roof of their vehicle without using a roof rack, and 24% planned to place the tree in the bed of their truck unsecured.

AAA says things like twine, ropes, and straps can wear away paint and tear rubber seals when tied down through a door or window opening. The organization says that closing a door over tie-downs can distort the window frame and tree branches can scratch the paint.

AAA provided the following tips to follow when transporting a tree home:

Use the right vehicle

AAA says it’s best to transport a Christmas tree on top of a vehicle with a roof rack. For vehicles without a roof rack, drivers can use the bed of a truck or a van, SUV, or minivan that has enough space for the tree to fit inside with all the doors closed.

Use quality tie downs

AAA suggests avoiding lightweight twine offered by many tree lots to tie down your tree. They say you should instead bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps to secure the tree to your vehicle’s roof rack.

Protect the tree

AAA says it’s best to wrap the tree in netting before loading it. If netting is unavailable, loose branches can be secured with rope or twine.

Point the trunk toward the front

AAA says you should always place the tree on a roof rack or in a truck bed with the bottom of the trunk facing the front of the vehicle.

Tie it down

AAA suggests making sure the tree is secured at its bottom, center, and top. Fixed vehicle tie-down points should be used at the bottom to loop around the trunk above a lower branch and prevent the tree from moving around. A similar technique should be used with the center and top tie-downs.

Give it the tug test

AAA says you should give the tree several strong tugs from various directions before leaving the lot to make sure it is secured in place.

Drive slowly and easily

AAA suggests driving on back roads, if possible when you have a tree attached to your vehicle. Higher speeds create greater airflow than can damage the tree and work against your tie-down methods.