Well I’m sure most of our first thought is the old wives tale that you’re “safe” in your car because it has rubber tires, but that’s not exactly the case. The best place to be in during a lightning storm is inside a sturdy building.
While yes it is true that in your car is safer than just sitting outside in a lightning storm it still isn’t the recommended place to be if there are any other options available.
According to The Weather Channel, the metal frame of the car is what actually does the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping you safe if your vehicle were to be struck by lightning. The metal exterior of the car acts similarly to a Faraday cage which conducts the electricity along the outside of the metal surface and directs it into the ground while keeping what’s inside safe. That being said, however, now more and more cars are being made out of non-metal frames and roofs, such as convertibles or anything with a plastic body, which won’t allow the electricity to flow through the car the way it might if the car were metal.
If there’s no other option for you but to endure a lightning storm inside of your metal-topped car then the safest thing for you to do is pull over and try to wait it out. According to The Weather Channel, if you have to stay in your car during a lightning storm keep your hands and feet away from anything metal in the car including, but not limited to, the radio, cell phone charger, GPS units, door handles, foot pedals, the steering column and your cell phone, especially if it’s connected to your car.
In the event that your car actually is struck, once the current has passed through the vehicle and into the ground it’s is safe to get out, however if the storm hasn’t subsided outside then that’s a judgement call based on the condition of the car.
Once the storm has passed you should call for emergency services and let them instruct you about the safest way for you to exit your vehicle.