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ClaireAnderson

Is it safe to be inside a car when hit by lightning?

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Well here's this question to all the storm chasers out there. Is it really safe to be sitting inside a car when hit by lightning? I've heard somewhere that a man ploughing the fields with his tractor was once hit by lightning (literally out of the blue) but suffered no physical damage, no spasms, no aches, no concussions whatsoever. Yes, his tractor, they say, had its back tires melted and wouldn't start. So, what if I'm inside my car, with the windows rolled up and doors closed and am hit by lightning. Will I be able to survive? Will it cause any damage to my car?

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I would have thought so. Top Gear tested it years back. Richard Hammond sat in a car (Renault of some sort?) with the doors closed and the windows up, and they zapped the car with artificial lightning. He was fine. I don't know about the car though.

Obviously they wouldn't have sat him in the car in the first place if it was unsafe.

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I've frequently been driving in severe thunderstorms and never thought about the lightning - too concentrated on vision with all the surface water causing spray - particularly bad on the fast roads down to the Med.

 

I found this advice page from the National Lightning Safety Institute.

 

http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/vehicle_strike.html

 

Bottom line, stay in the car, doors and windows closed and keep your hands off any surfaces!

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You'd be fine. The car would act as a Faraday cage, channeling the lightning around you. You'd likely be very shaken but physically fine :)

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It is quite safe but don't rely on it 100%. The possibility of conduction into the car from the antenna exists albeit it is slim. There is also a greater use of non metallic materials in the construction of vehicles, for example fibreglass,

Some people think that it is the rubber tyres which keeps them safe but it isn't, the metal of the car's body acts as what is called a Faraday cage. Obviously a car that's not metallic won't offer much protection.

All in all, I would rather be in the car than outside in it. It never bothers me when I'm out chasing so if I was you, I'd hop in to the car and go watch some storms.

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A car is less likely to be hit because it is sat on insulated rubber tyres.If it is hit it is because it has least resistance to earth,that includes the tyres ,hence why the tyres are burnt out a bit like putting too much power down a small cable it just melts the insulation.My Grandad got struck by lightening and I always have that down to him dying at an early age of 64!

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