There’s a popular myth out there that the rubber tires on your vehicle will protect you from lightning. It’s true that your truck is a very secure place to be during a lightning storm, but certain precautions must be taken to ensure your safety.
When lightning hits your truck, the electrical current travels around the outside of the metal tractor, creating what’s called a ‘Faraday Cage’ – protecting you and anyone else inside. – But only if your rig is enclosed and made of metal.
For example: Drivers of any vehicle made of fiberglass (a poor conductor) would most likely be electrocuted since the ‘Faraday’ effect is compromised by poor conduction.
Another stipulation is that some portions of the current can come through the enclosed truck’s metal appendages such as radios, cell phone chargers, GPS units, door handles, pedals, gear shifts, the steering column, and the steering wheel.
The National Lightning Safety Institute says the best way to stay safe during a lightning storm is to pull to the side of the road, turn on your hazard lights, turn off the engine, hold you hands on your lap and avoid touching anything referenced to the outside of the vehicle, especially the items mentioned above.
According to storm chaser Dan Robinson, a lightning strike will sometimes give you a few seconds warning in the form of a loud or soft buzzing, clicking, hissing, or cracking sound. You may also experience a tingling sensation, hairs standing on end, or nearby metal objects emitting a soft, blue-white glow.
If lightning strikes your vehicle, the electrical current will pass through and enter into the ground. At that point, it’s technically safe to exit your truck and check for damage, but you’ll want to proceed with caution. According to the NLSI, lightning damage to a vehicle can include tire blow outs, pitting, arching, and burning – as well as a myriad of electrical issues.