HOW TO DRIVE IN HAIL
Here’s what to do if you get caught in a hailstorm.
Hail can happen during thunderstorms at any time of year, so it’s best to always be prepared. Try to stay off the road when hail is forecast, because these balls of frozen rain can create dangerous driving situations. But if you are already driving and it starts to hail, remember these tips.
STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE
Hailstones can be as large as six inches in diameter, so it’s very important that you stay in your vehicle. People have been knocked unconscious—even killed—when struck by hailstones.
Turn on your low beams. Slow down. And allow more space between your vehicle and the one in front of you—three times the usual distance—to help avoid a collision.
PULL OVER TO A SAFE PLACE (NOT UNDER AN OVERPASS)
Park in a safe area to help prevent hail from breaking the windshield or windows—driving only increases the power of hail’s impact with your car. Find a location away from trees or power lines, which could fall on your vehicle. Ideally, pull into a parking garage or underneath a service station awning to minimize vehicle damage. Even though you may be tempted, do not stop under an overpass. That can cause a dangerous bottleneck, leading to more accidents and hindering emergency vehicles. Also avoid low-lying areas next to the road, because of possible rising water.
TURN ON YOUR HAZARD LIGHTS
Once you’ve parked, immediately flip on your hazard lights.
IF YOU CANNOT FIND COVER, ANGLE YOUR VEHICLE
If you can’t find cover, once you’ve pulled over, consider angling your vehicle so the hail hits the front of your car. But be aware that the glass could still break or spiderweb to a point where you are no longer able to see—in which case, do not attempt to drive. Instead, call for help.
LIE DOWN, COVER UP AND WAIT
Use a blanket or coat for some protection in case of debris. Lie down on the seats, if possible, with your back to the windows. Keep calm and wait out the hailstorm.
AFTERWARD: CHECK FOR DAMAGE
After the storm, evaluate your car for damage. If any windows broke, carefully remove the shattered glass from inside the vehicle and try to cover the area to prevent further water damage. Drive to a safe location, being careful to avoid debris and downed power lines.
In the end, your best bet is to be prepared. Always keep on top of your local forecast and stay off the road when there are advisories. Stay safe!