No matter how big or how small, all thunderstorms are dangerous because they produce lightning, which should never be underestimated. Sometimes, they can also be accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain, or hail. If you’re driving on a highway and find yourself in the middle of a thunderstorm, your best options are to:
- Find a safe place to exit the roadway.
- Park with your hazard lights on and windows up.
- Turn off the engine, and sit with your hands in your lap until the storm passes.
- Do not park next to trees, utility poles, or other objects that may either attract lightning or fall on your vehicle if struck.
- Avoid the base of steep or unstable slopes and low areas prone to flooding.
Did You Know?
The reason your vehicle is generally a safe place to be in a lightning storm is not your rubber tires – it’s the metal frame of the vehicle, which can act as a faraday cage, directing the electric current around the outside of the vehicle. The majority of vehicles today are made with enough metal throughout the frame that you will be protected from lightning should it strike your vehicle, provided you are not touching interior components like door handles, gearshifts, electronics, or the steering wheel.
If your vehicle is struck by lightning, wait until the storm has passed before exiting the vehicle. Check your tires and vehicle for damage before attempting to drive as tire damage and electrical system malfunctions are common after a lightning strike.