Safety Center

What Should You Do if Caught in Severe Storm Conditions?

As air temperatures rise, more ocean water evaporates into the atmosphere, resulting in more intense storms. Be aware of these potential risks when you're on the road.

The Risks

Hail – hail can cause significant damage to your vehicle – denting the body or cracking the windshield and windows

Lightning – while rare, a direct lightning strike on your car could cause electrical damage; also, a nearby lightning strike can down trees, utility poles, or power lines, striking your vehicle or obstructing your path

Poor traction – more water on the road surface makes it harder for your vehicle's tires to displace it; it can take up to three times longer to brake on a wet surface than on a dry one

Puddles, flooding – sewer drains are often overwhelmed during a severe rainstorm, creating large pools of standing water and even flooding

Reduced visibility – rain, especially heavy rain, will drastically decrease your visibility

Wind – strong winds might make it harder to steer. Watch for windswept objects like falling tree branches that could blow on the road or hit your vehicle

How to Protect Yourself

Stay updated – keep current with the weather forecast and plan any driving accordingly

Don't drive – if there is a pending severe thunderstorm, try to avoid driving in it

Pull over – if you're caught in a thunderstorm, especially with high winds. Look for a safe area to pull over — such as a parking lot — until it passes

Park car – turn on your hazard lights and apply the parking brake; look for covered parking if it begins to hail

Slow down – reduce your speed until you locate an area to ride out the storm safely if you can't find a place to park

Distance yourself – keep right to allow other cars to pass and increase the space between your vehicle and those ahead of you (doubling the "three-second" rule) to allow more time for braking

Headlights on – use your low beams for better road visibility so other drivers can see you, even in the daytime

Don't cruise – using cruise control can increase your chances of hydroplaning

Stay calm – take deep breaths to slow down your heart rate and blood pressure; playing soothing music can help

NJM Insurance Group’s Commitment to Safety

NJM’s enduring commitment to safety can be traced back to our earliest days — with a focus that has expanded from improving conditions in manufacturing facilities to helping keep customers safe on the roads and at home. NJM is a leader in personal and commercial auto, homeowners, and workers’ compensation insurance.


  1. Jeff Youngs, “Safety Tips For Driving In Bad Weather,”, (April 18, 2019).

  2. Rita Colorito, “Driving Safely in Sudden Extreme Conditions,” Driving Safely in Sudden Extreme Conditions, (August 12, 2014).

Our Safety Center pages are filled with tips related to the safety and maintenance of your home and autos. The information contained in these articles should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.