Does a vehicle’s rubber tires protect you from a lightning strike inside your car? Everyone seems to think so, but that’s not what makes the inside of a car a safe place to be during lightening.
Whether it’s a Yokohama or a Continental, Car tires don’t protect you from lightning. Tires are too small to insulate a lightning strike. What keeps you safe while inside a car is the metal body surrounding you which creates a Faraday Cage. The lightning follows the path of least resistance down the metal framework and into the ground.
A Faraday Cage is a metal enclosure that blocks electromagnetic fields from entering inside.
It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t be touching any metal parts from within your vehicle as the lightning will travel through and shock you. The metal inside a steering wheel will transfer a shock into you if you are holding on to it.
So if the metal body of your vehicle surrounding you is what protects you from lightning strikes, keep in mind that convertibles, motorcycles and any other vehicles that don’t have metal roofs and doors will not protect you from lightning at all.
What To Do In A Lightning Storm
If you’re caught in a lightning storm, pull over to a safe spot, turn your emergency lights on, switch the engine off, and keep your hands on your lap. Holding onto your steering or leaning against your door will open you up to danger as the electricity can pass through all the metal parts of your car.
It’s always best to pull over and wait for a lightning storm to end because even though you might be ok if the car is struck, the tires could blow out and the electronics might get fried as the lightning strikes, potentially causing a serious accident.
Gas stations covers and underground mall parking areas are two of the best places to wait out a lightning storm. But if there’s no shelter in sight, just try to stop on what looks to be the lowest point in the area, away from any bodies of water and tall structures such as power line towers.
The Chance Of Being Struck By Lightning?
In the US alone around 50 people are struck and killed by lightning each year. The chance of being struck by lightning is 1 in 3,000 compared to the chance of dying in a car accident at 1 in 103. What this means is that death by lightning strike is indeed rare, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions.