Nugget of Knowledge: Cars and lightning

A lightning strike kills 1 out of 10 people hit

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – You’re driving along the highway and spot black clouds with an occasional flash of lightning ahead.

The rubber tires of your car should protect you, right? Let’s find out.

Cars will protect you a bit but not because of the rubber tires. When lightning strikes, it tends to run along an outer surface. So, when it strikes a car, the current moves down the metal roof and sides, funneling the bolt around you and into the ground.

If you don’t have metal around you — such as in a convertible or on a motorcycle or bike — there is no protection from lightning, even if they do have rubber tires.

So, what should you do if you’re caught in your car during a lightning storm?

The National Lightning Safety Institute says to pull over and put your hands in your lap until the storm passes. Here’s why: things such as door and window handles, radio dials, gearshifts and steering wheels can transfer a current from the outside in.

A man was stuck inside his car in 2014 because he was closing his car windows.

Cars can still sustain some damage, but the harm should be limited to burned paint or a fried electrical system.

Did you miss an episode of Daybreak or want to re-visit a previous ‘Nugget’? View previous ‘Nugget of Knowledge’ entries on WYTV.com.

If you have an idea for a ‘Nugget of Knowledge,’ send your idea in an email to Len.Rome@wytv.com