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Is it safe to drive in thunder and lightning?

AS the UK is battered by summer storms triggered by a sweltering heatwave, many are wondering whether it is safe to drive during the extreme weather.

As with all hazardous weather, there are risks involved. We break down whether it’s safe to drive and how you can keep safe.

Generally, driving during a thunderstorm is not a good idea.

Thunderstorms can bring a risk of sudden gusty winds and heavy rain, with those most at risk including cyclists, motorcyclists and high sided vehicles.

These conditions can make driving more hazardous with possible flooded or muddy roads, or streets blocked by debris.

However, if you are caught out in thunder and lightning the Met Office advises that you wind up the windows and stay inside your car.

Keep your speed down as lowering your speed will lower the distance you travel when buffeted around by the wind.

Heavy rain will restrict your visibility, so your windshield wipers and headlights are a necessity.

Give other cars extra space especially when the roads are wet as it will be harder to stop.

In extreme conditions, it is recommended to pull off to the side of the road in a safe manner, turn on the hazard lights, turn off the engine, put your hands in your lap, and wait out the storm.

Many people believe they are safe in a car due to rubber tyres, however this is not the case.

You’re safe in a car because the lightning will travel around the surface of the vehicle and then go to the ground.

The vast majority of cars are made with a metal roof and frame, allowing the frame to act as a conductive Faraday cage, passing the current around the passengers inside and on to the ground.

However, cars can be damaged both internally and externally by a lightning strike.

A Faraday cage is a metal cage to shield objects inside when hit by a high. potential discharge, like lightning.

The concept was discovered by Michael Faraday, a British physicist, who found that a metal cage, being a good conductor, would direct the current around the objects and discharge it safely to the ground.

This process of shielding is widely used today.

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