Editorial roundup: Views from around Georgia

Valdosta Daily Times: Watch out for that tree

What says Christmas time more than a fresh cut tree?

Getting that evergreen home, however, can lead to problems.

According to a AAA auto club survey, an estimated 20 million Americans who purchase a real Christmas tree do not properly secure it to their vehicle, risking serious vehicle damage, dangerous road debris and in some cases even being pulled over by the police because the driver’s view is obstructed.

Christmas trees that are not properly secured can be a safety hazard for other motorists, the auto club said in a statement out this week. We join AAA in urging our readers to transport their Christmas trees safely by doing just a little advance planning.

“Not transporting a Christmas tree correctly can be dangerous,” said Montrae Waiters, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group. “It can be a driving distraction, putting your safety and others at risk.”

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, road debris — which could include objects such as improperly secured Christmas trees that fly off cars, landing on the road or on other cars — was responsible for more than 200,000 crashes that resulted in 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths in recent years.

About two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of improperly secured items falling from a vehicle.

So, here are a few tips from the foundation:

• Use the right vehicle. It’s best to transport a Christmas tree on top of a vehicle equipped with a roof rack. However, if you do not have a roof rack, use the bed of a pickup truck or an SUV, van or minivan that can fit the tree inside with all doors closed.

Use quality tie downs. Bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps to secure the tree to your vehicle’s roof rack. Avoid the lightweight twine offered by many tree lots.

Protect the tree. Have the tree wrapped in netting before loading it. If netting is unavailable, secure loose branches with rope or twine.

Protect your vehicle. Use an old blanket to prevent paint scratches and protect the vehicle finish.

Point the trunk towards the front. Always place the tree on a roof rack or in a pickup bed with the bottom of the trunk facing the front of the vehicle.

Tie it down. Secure the tree at its bottom, center and top. At the bottom, use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop around the trunk above a lower branch, to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement. The center and top tie downs should be installed in a similar manner.

Give it the tug test. Before you leave the lot, give the tree several strong tugs from various directions to make sure it is secured in place and will not blow away.

Drive slowly and easily. Take the back roads, if possible. Higher speeds create significant airflow that can damage your Christmas tree and challenge even the best tie-down methods.

Motorists can face some pretty hefty fines if an unsecured tree falls off the vehicle. AAA said every state, including Georgia, has laws making it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. Drivers can prevent injuries and avoid penalties by properly securing their loads to prevent items from falling off the vehicle just by following the simple steps outlined above.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Brunswick News: Governments should not decide what kids read

It is hard to believe the majority of adults in this state would be in favor of 56 senators and 180 House members, the makeup of the General Assembly, deciding what books children can read in school libraries. Differences aside, it is where the state may be headed.

Parents in some cities and counties are raising objections to the subject matter of some books found in school libraries. Among other things, they say certain topics are either too sensitive or in direct conflict with their personal taste or views. They demand they be banned posthaste.

A number of legislators tend to agree with this line of thought. There is even some consideration being given to enacting a law that would make it a crime for school librarians to allow the check out or reading of certain books, the topics of which are to be determined.

Pardon us, but in a society where children are still considered — well, children — shouldn’t that be the prerogative of parents? They are the ones who ought to decide which books are suitable for their offspring, not a political body known to kowtow to the crowd stirring up the most dust or making the most noise.

A list of books or subjects parents do not want their children reading can be submitted in the opening days of school, just like every other consent form sent home with students. With today’s computer technology, it would take mere seconds to determine if a book submitted for checkout met the standards set by the child’s home.

This is not a greenlight for every book imaginable to be available at school libraries. Materials and images that are adult in content do not belong on school shelves, and school officials and librarians know what these materials and images are.

Of course, these are not the books this 2021 edition of the book ban club is talking about. They have their own list of topics they consider unsuitable for their children and yours.

Problem is, what offends them may not offend others or those who favor open and free thought at higher age levels.

The last thing this state needs is for the government to tell parents what their children can or can’t read.

Leave book selection for students in the hands of parents. No one knows their children better, not even 56 senators and 180 House members.

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