Most people believe the rubber tires on a car are what protect the occupants during a lightning strike. Ironically, it’s not the rubber tires of the car, but the conductive metal framing which protects the vehicle occupants.
The truth is, the rubber tires don’t deter lightning in the least bit. By the time a lightning bolt reaches your car, it has been traveling for miles and miles through the air, which is many orders of magnitude more resistant than a few inches of rubber. So if the lightning bolt can overcome the resistance of air, it can easily overcome the resistance of a rubber tire.
As mentioned earlier, the one thing that does protect you from a lightning strike while in your car is the conductive metal framing.
Stay in your car if you are driving when there is lightning, which is normally part of the thunderstorm, begins to flash across the sky. Being in a car gives you better protection than being out in the open.
A woman driving here in WA State found that out the hard way, when her car was hit by lightning while she was driving, and she walked away without a scratch.
According to the Rochester, WA paper, a lightning storm at six in the evening was getting worse as the woman was driving on the highway. As the sky kept getting blacker, she kept on driving when suddenly there was a “huge blinding light, deafening explosion and the car lost all power.”
She managed to slowly roll the car to the side of the road. It is speculated that the lightning struck the radio antenna at the front of the roof, then traveled through the top, proceeded to shatter the rear window and exited through the car emblem on the tailgate.
“Vehicles are very safe. It’s the safest place to be in a lightning storm because the electricity has to get to the ground and with the rubber tires it insulates you,” said the manager at repair garage where the car ended up.
The woman, who was not injured at all and had just purchased the new car. Luckily the sun roof and the sun roof shade were closed tight, although the panoramic glass roof was heavily cracked.
It is a good lesson in what to do while driving in a thunderstorm with lightning with no tall buildings around.