Driving in thunder & lightning
Can you drive in thunder and lightning?
You may be wondering what would happen if you got caught in a thunderstorm whilst driving? Would I be safe? In short, yes. You can drive in thunder and lightning, and although it is of course possible that your vehicle will be struck, you will be protected. Contrary to popular belief, that the rubber on your tyres is what will protect you from being struck by lightning, it is actually the metal body structure of your vehicle that will help protect you during a thunderstorm. This is because the metal body acts as a faraday cage around you and the electric current will be safely discharged to the ground instead of inside the vehicle.
Is it safe to be in a car during a thunderstorm?
It is safe to be in your car during a thunderstorm, as a result of the metal structure around your vehicle. This as a result means that those cars with a convertible roof are not safe from a stroke of lighting as they are not fully surrounded by a metal cage. The vehicles metal structure acts a faraday cage.
A faraday cage shields its contents from static electric fields and cancels out the electric charges within the cage’s interior. This is also true for when a car is hit by a stroke of lightning- the outer metal surface carries most of the electricity, thus protecting you inside the vehicle.
How to stay safe when driving in a thunderstorm
- Visibility is reduced when you are driving in heavy rain that will likely come if you are driving in a thunderstorm. If possible, pull off at the closest exit to you and find shelter.
- If you can’t find any shelter, then stay on the roads and pull over, turn your engine off and turn on your hazard lights.
- Make sure to not touch anything metal inside of your car including the radio, GPS devices, mobile phone chargers, the steering wheel and door handles. This can help you stay safe if your car is struck by lightning. Try to keep your hands in your lap to ensure you are clear of all metal objects.
- If you aren’t in a car but rather a motorcycle or bicycle, make sure that you do not look for shelter that is underneath trees. Whilst this may keep you drier, it will largely increase your risk of being struck by lightning.
- Remember to give other road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians more room than usual as they are more likely to be blown around by side winds – always keep a safe distance.
- Keep your speed down, lowering your speed will lower the distance you travel when buffeted around by the wind.
- Hail storms can be extremely dangerous to drive in, reducing your ability to see and be seen, as well as causing damage to your vehicle. Make sure to drive slowly and turn on your windscreen wipers to create as clear a view as possible.
- If hail is severe, stop and pull over to a safe place and remain inside the vehicle.