✓ SAVINGS TIP Learn if your motorcycle insurance is too expensive!
Compare quotes to save money
Enter your zip to get started.
There’s nothing quite like riding a motorcycle in the perfect temperatures. Even when the temperature isn’t perfect, riding is still fun. But sometimes the elements aren’t so kind to us motorcycle enthusiasts.
Being caught in a storm while riding can make it dangerous. It can also prove to be dangerous. Lightning storms can also be dangerous and are common for motorcycle riders who live near a lot of these.
Is it safe to drive a motorcycle during a lightning strike? A motorcycle ride in a thunderstorm is dangerous. Your risk of lightning strikes will rise because you’re touching the vehicle. This is not an uncommon occurrence but it has happened before so it is best not to ride in a lightning storm.
Many riders believe that their chances of being struck by lightning are lower because their vehicles are smaller. This is incorrect. If you’re caught in a lightning storm on your motorcycle, there are many safety precautions you can take.
The Dangers of riding in a lightning storm
Lightning is something you shouldn’t take chances with. Lightning is one of most common weather-related fatalities. But it’s hard as a motorcyclists to know exactly when you’ll hit a lightning storm because the weather can sometimes be unpredictable.
The odds of getting hit by lightning are pretty slim, but there is still a chance of it happening while you’re out riding a motorcycle in a storm. Lightning deaths happen mostly to people who are outside which is where you’ll be on your motorcycle. According to the CDC lightning is responsible for an average 33 deaths each year in the United States. That’s 33 deaths too many. Don’t let yourself be one of them.
Motorcyclists mistakenly believe that those who ride in the storm in their motorcycles are financially secure. People assume that the rubber tires are enough of an insulator and that if they keep their feet on the foot pets, they’re technically not grounded.
When lightning strikes a car, the electricity travels around the metal frame which is what protects the occupants inside as long as they aren’t touching anything metal (generally everything inside a car is plastic so people are usually safe). They stay safe because of the metal shell that surrounds them. Not rubber tires.
This protection is not provided by a motorcycle. Your chances of being struck by lightning are increased because you’re touching the motorcycle. Your rubber tires will not stop you from being grounded. They will not stand a chance against lightning bolts of approximately 20,000 amps.
Lightning storms can produce hail and heavy rains, and even the beginning of a tornado. Lightning isn’t your only worry during a storm like this. Rain can make it hard to breath if it’s heavy enough and you don’t have a full-faced helmet on.
A motorcycle rider can be particularly vulnerable to hail. If it’s thick enough, it can be hard to see where you’re going. It can also make it difficult for other drivers on the road to see you and your location.
You may find it difficult to balance your motorcycle if the winds are strong enough. Mix that in with water/hail and the dangers of lightning and you’re just about as unsafe as you can be while riding a motorcycle.
What to do if you are caught in a lightning storm
It’s important you know how to handle a lightning storm before you’re caught in one while riding your motorcycle. Preparation is key to saving your life.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “when the thunder roars, go indoors.” Just because it’s not raining or there’s no wind doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Your greatest danger is the lightning.
You should stop if you’re caught in a lightning storm and go to shelter. This could mean waiting in a gas station, a restaurant, a hotel, or even a random person’s porch. Keep away from lightning by doing whatever you can.
If you can see a lightning storm off in the distance that hasn’t reached you yet, it can be difficult to know what to do. Obviously, if the storm is miles away, you probably won’t be affected by it.
The 30-30 rule is an excellent lightning safety guide. According to the CDC, “after you see lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.”
What to Do if There is No Shelter Nearby
Unfortunately, riders can find themselves out in the middle nowhere with no place to shelter from a lightning storm. While this is unfortunate, it is possible because again, weather can be unpredictable and it’s important to be prepared in case you’re caught in a situation like this.
If a lightning storm is happening while you’re riding and there is no shelter near by, meaning no buildings to businesses to seek shelter at, there are a few things you can to keep yourself a little safer than simply continuing your ride.
First, park your bike and remain at least ten feet from it. If you’re riding in a forest area, you can seek shelter under the trees As long as there are many of them in a group. Avoid touching the trees. Instead, seek shelter from shorter trees.
Don’t lay on the ground. Instead, bend over and hug your knees while crouching. To keep your head as low and as far as possible off the ground, you should bow your head. Your heels should not touch the ground.
A cave may be another option, but these are rarely available. Don’t spend too much time trying to find a cave. Use the resources that you have close to your heart.
If there isn’t any forest, caves, shelter, or other type of shelter, find the lowest point on the field that you can see. Park your motorcycle at least 10 ft away and take the same crouching position as previously mentioned.
It is a matter of debate whether an isolated tree should be used for protection. Some argue that sheltering under an isolated tree could be dangerous as it can attract lightning, which could spread to your location. You could also be harmed if the tree falls in half. Others believe it’s better to be under a single tree than being out in open where lightning strikes most often.
Safety tips for riding
Before you take a motorcycle ride, the best thing you can do is to check the weather before you go. If it’s supposed to rain at all, postpone your ride for another time. You are at risk of being struck by lightning and hydroplaning. You can click here to read my article on motorcycles and hydroplaning.
Make sure to always wear the appropriate gear whether or not it’s supposed to rain. A good helmet and other protection will make you safer in an unplanned lightning storm.
Do not ride in puddles. The road can become a puddle, which can make it hard to balance your motorcycle. To avoid traffic from both directions, ride on the driest lane.
Prepare a plan in case of lightning storms. If you’re riding long distance, look at a map beforehand and know the closest places of shelter every 50 miles or so. It is worth spending time planning to save your own life.
Is it okay for a motorcycle get wet? Most motorcycles can get wet. It is OK for it to be rained on whether in the driveway or while you’re riding it. But, too much water can eventually damage your motorcycle. For more information, click here.
What kind of damage can lightning cause to a motorcycle’s engine? A motorcycle that is struck by lightning will likely have its wiring, battery, or fuses blown. It is likely that you will need a new wiring harness and a new battery.