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What Should You Do If Lightning Strikes Your Car?

Spoiler alert: Stay inside of it!

Do your car’s rubber tires really protect you from lightning strikes? Unfortunately, they do not. This is an example of an energy myth, and in this case, it perpetuates misinformation that can be dangerous, especially for those who find themselves in a car during a lightning strike.

Most cars can protect you from lightning, but it’s the metal roof and sides that keep you safe, not your rubber tires. The metal body and roof direct the electrical charge from the lightning into the ground, but only in hard-top vehicles. It makes no difference to your safety whether the engine is running or not.

Every lightning strike varies, meaning that the amount of damage to your car can depend on the individual strike. Generally, strikes cause damage to the electrical system, the antenna, the tires and the rear windshield. Intense strikes can also ignite a fire within your vehicle, rendering it inoperable and endangering your life.

If you’re caught driving in a thunderstorm, Southern California Edison offers these safety tips you should follow:

  • Pull over to the side of the road and sit with your hands in your lap, not touching door or window handles, electronics, the gearshift or the steering wheel — all things that contain metal and are connected to the outside of the car. If the car does take a hit, this helps ensure that you won’t get shocked.
  • Make sure to wait for at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before leaving your car.
  • Try to virtually inspect the damage, if any, before starting or exiting your vehicle.

For more safety tips, visit: sce.com/safety.