If you’re driving in a thunderstorm, it’s important to know how to handle potentially dangerous situations. Safely driving during a storm is possible, but the smartest idea may be to delay your travel until the weather clears. If you need to travel, here’s advice from electricity, lightning and weather experts.

Safety in Your Car

While it is possible for your car to be struck by lightning, the NJ Office of Emergency Management says you’re much safer inside your vehicle than outside. If you’re driving during a storm, ready.gov recommends trying exit the road and park, if it is safe to do so.

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“Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.”

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your tires that protect you from lightning. From the National Weather Service:

“Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm.”

If a Power Line Falls on Your Car

Electric company PSE&G says you can be safe inside your car if a live power line falls on it. Here’s advice from them and other experts about what to do if that happens:

Stay in the car. Call for emergency, professional help. Don’t get out until they say it’s safe.

  • If you must get out of the car because of life-threatening circumstances, like fire, PSE&G advises to jump clear of the vehicle so you don’t touch the ground or car at the same time. Land with both feet together.
  • Once you do land, the Electrical Safety Foundation International advises to shuffle, not run or walk, at least 35 feet away from the car to protect yourself from electrical shock.

If Roads Are Flooded

Remember, it’s never safe to drive or walk in floodwaters. Water can be deeper than it appears and can sweep away cars, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


If you have any questions about this article, please contact Heather Duffy at 732 832 7546.


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Article and photo courtesy of Plymouth Rock.