According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10% of all car accidents result from driving in the rain. Wet and slippery pavement is the leading cause of 70% of accidents caused by weather conditions. It is estimated that, on average, over 600 people are killed, and another 445,000 are injured in accidents involving weather conditions.
Driving in the rain is definitely not recommended; if you have the opportunity to stay home and avoid driving, do it. Nothing is more important than your safety.
Now, what happens if you have to drive during a thunderstorm? And worse yet, if your car is struck by lightning?
A popular belief that is entirely wrong is that the rubber on the tires will protect you from lightning, but this is just a myth. What can actually protect us from the effects of lightning is the metal body of our vehicle.
It is important to note that in this situation, we are considering a fully enclosed vehicle with a hardtop and fully closed windows. A convertible car doesn’t provide the same protection in the event of a thunderstorm, so if you know a storm is coming soon, definitely avoid driving.
If lightning were to hit your car, the electrical current would go through the entire metal bodywork, reaching the ground through the tires. This will happen regardless of whether the engine is running or not. If this is the case, you can still be safe. However, your car’s paint and/or side mirrors will likely be damaged.
In newer cars, the computers could also suffer significant damage preventing you from being able to operate your vehicle. Other parts that could be damaged are the antennas, the rear windshields, and the tires. The amount of energy lightning carries is impressive, and it can cause many of the car’s components to melt and break.
During a thunderstorm, the best thing to do is pull over to the side of the road, make sure all windows are completely closed, and remain seated with your hands on your lap. Try not to touch any other part of the car, such as the steering wheel, the gear lever, the radio, or any other component that may be connected to the exterior of the vehicle or to the electrical systems.