One minute you are driving through a downpour, and then the next thing you know, your car is being pelted by hailstones. All it takes to form hailstones is for the wind to change into an updraft and blow the rain into the freezing cold atmosphere.
While you may think it is safe to drive during a hail storm, you should think twice, just in case the weather suddenly gets even worse. Ensure your safety by following these tips.
What to Do if You Get Caught in a Hail Storm
The most important thing you should do while driving in a hailstorm is to pull over as soon and safely as you can. Doing so can protect yourself and your vehicle. Follow the steps in this guide to keep yourself safe the next time it starts to hail when you are driving.
1. Get off of the Road
First of all, once you see hail start to rain down from the sky, you need to get off of the road. Whether you pull over onto the shoulder or use a nearby shelter like a garage or gas station awning, this should be your priority. The main reason for getting off the road right away is that the rate of impact of hailstones increases the faster you are driving. You'll help prevent additional damage to your car by pulling over. Just avoid stopping under a bridge or overpass, since you can cause a traffic jam.
2. Don't Get Out of Your Car
If you get out of your car during a hail storm, you're asking for a potential injury to occur. While it may seem safe to be out when the hailstones are tiny, they can quickly gain mass. If a large hailstone hits you in the right place, it can cause significant bodily injury or even death in extreme cases. In some cases, hail gets larger than a grapefruit — you definitely don't want to get hit by something like that!
3. Keep Yourself Safe from Broken Glass
When you are waiting out a hail storm in your car, you don't want to be sitting in your front seat taking in the show. Hailstones have the potential to shatter your windows if they get large enough. Either lay down in the back seat or on the floor. If you have a child with you, make sure they are underneath you for extra protection.
Use a blanket, which you should have in your emergency kit, to keep your head, neck, back, and any other sensitive areas safe from broken glass. If you don't have a blanket, try using anything from spare clothing to boxes to cover yourself.
4. Assess the Damage
When you don't hear the sound of hail for a few minutes, the storm has likely ended. Uncover yourself and see if any damage has occurred to your vehicle. If everything is fine, you can get back on the road — otherwise, you may need to call a tow truck if you have broken windows.
How Can a Hail Storm Damage My Car?
A hail storm has the potential to do serious damage to your car. Typically, it takes hailstones of at least 1 inch or larger to do any real damage, but if they reach that size, here is what they can do to your car:
Windows — Your windows can crack from smaller hailstones and shatter when hit by a large hailstone.
Body — Hail may chip the paint, cause small dings which may pop back out on their own, or cause large dents which require a trip to the body shop.
Interior — If hail breaks your windows, rain can get inside and cause additional damage to your interior.
Stay Safe if You Run into a Hail Storm
Any time it starts hailing when you are on the road, pull over or seek shelter and protect yourself. If you want more ways to keep yourself safe while driving, sign up for a behind-the-wheel drivers training course from IDriveSafely.com. One of our licensed instructors can teach you the driving techniques you need to know to for any situation.