Is it safe to drive in thunder and lightning? Guidance on driving in thunderstorms - and how to stay safe if you’re caught in one

Thunderstorms can quickly turn regular driving conditions into dangerous ones

This is how to keep safe if you're caught in a storm (Photo: Shutterstock)

Across the UK, the Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for thunderstorms throughout the rest of the week.

However, thunderstorms can make driving conditions difficult, which begs the question - is it safe to be out and driving in a thunderstorm?

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Here is what you need to know - and tips to keep yourself safe.

How to drive safely in a storm

Mark Greening, Driving Expert from GoCompare, says, “The main piece of advice is if you can avoid travelling during a storm, then do.

“If you are caught out or need to drive, be prepared to pull over if it starts to become hazardous and wait for it to be safe.

“If you have to drive, allow more time so that you can take it slow and pause your journey if you get caught in a bad patch. Always keep both hands on the wheel and slow down to maintain control of the car. Winds and rain can be so persistent that they can cause your car to drift or veer without warning.

“Driving slowly will also increase the distance between you and the driver in front as you may lose visibility. Always reduce your speed slowly and avoid harsh braking or sharp steering. When braking is essential, keep it smooth and gentle - being aware and anticipating the road ahead is the key.”

Greening advises that, if you feel your vehicle is starting to skid, or that you’re losing control, you should release the release and turn smoothly into the slide.

‘Turning into the slide’ means, for example, if the rear of the vehicle is skidding to the right, gently steer to the right as well.

Am I safe from lightning in my car?

According to Accuweather, people think that rubber tyres on a car protect the driver and passengers from a lightning strike - however, this is a myth.

You can still be struck by lightning in your car, but you are protected from it - this is because your car acts like a ‘Faraday cage’.

Simply put, a Faraday cage is “an enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields.” It was named after the English scientist Michael Faraday, who first observed the effect in 1836.

If your vehicle is of conventional metal construction, you are protected from lightning strikes. To keep safe, however, the person in the car must not be touching any metal object in the car.

Arnold Clark also states, “Door and window handles, radio dials, CB microphones, steering wheels, and other inside-to-outside metal objects should be left alone during close-in lightning events.”

Thunderstorm warnings in the UK

Currently, the Met Office displays a yellow weather warning across the majority of the UK for thunderstorms, until Tuesday 18 August.

The yellow warning states that “some places are likely to see severe thunderstorms” but there is “significant uncertainty in location and timing.”

This is what the Met Office says to expect:

- The small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes and large hail

- Where flooding or lightning strikes occur, there is a chance of delays and some cancellations to public transport

- Sprays and sudden flooding could create difficult driving conditions and increase chances of accidents

- The slight chance that power cuts could occurs and that other services to homes and businesses could be lost

- The small chance of fast flowing or deep flood water could cause danger to life