Lightning strikes pickup. The rubber tires didn't help very much.

I’d always heard a vehicle’s tires prevented lightning from finding a path to ground. That may only be partially true.The couple in the pickup weren’t electrocuted. But, their vehicle caught fire.

Quite interesting video of the lightning strike. Driving down a road and getting hit must be a million to one occurrence. Just a WAG.
Catching it on surveillance video is… shocking. :smiley: :smiley:

If they weren’t grounded, why did it catch fire?

Tires have exactly zero to do with it. That electricity just jumped from 5 miles up in the sky all the way to the top of the pickup. Do you suppose the last 10" from the bottom of the truck to the earth is gonna be any obstacle? Much less 1/2" of rubber? Which rubber has carbon in it for color and is MORE conductive than (non-ionized) air?

The safety value of being in a car is entirely the idea that lightning will hit the car & be conducted through the metal body and out the bottom of the car, with very little bouncing around *inside *the car where you are. Still not real safe, as even a tiny percentage of a lightning bolt rattling around inside the car is still more than enough to fry a human. But safer than the putative alternative of standing outside 20 feet away from the car using your noggin as a lighting rod.

It didn’t mention how the Mountie got them oot. Did he break the glass and pull her out through the ragged-edged window, cause that would take some effort.

What were they doing at the time the bolt hit them? Might be important.

In the section in my physics book on Faraday cages, there was this (or a similar) picture to explain why the tire theory has nothing to do with why you’re safe inside a car.

The husband said he couldn’t unlock the doors because the electrical system had fried. But I don’t know of any car or truck that doesn’t have a mechanical release of the lock from the inside.

The Mountie may have broke the glass and found the release or he helped the husband clear his head by giving him instructions to unlatch the lock.

I agree. That’s one of my complaints of TV shows that use “high tech” to lock people in their cars. Just manually unlock, or pull the latch! It’s a safety feature - you can’t be locked in.

Though I can see being a bit rattled in that situation!

Or the lightning had just welded something together in the door rendering it incapable of opening, and the husband just assumed it was because the electrical system was ruined.

Actually, most lightning goes up, not down; we just see it as falling due to our natural bias to see things as falling from the sky and not the reverse. Here’s a YouTube clip with some neat extreme slow motion video of lightning demonstrating this.

Aha, so lightning is the Earth’s retribution against God, not the other way 'round. That does seem to make more sense. :slight_smile:

We got ways of making you pronounce the letter ‘o’.

ARE there any vehicles with electric-operated doors that you can’t open if the power goes out? Hard to imagine any manufacturer being that stupid. That would be just asking for some lawsuits of biblical proportions.

Personally, I find it somewhat nervous-making just that the windows work like that. I’ve practiced climbing out of car windows, just to see if it’s doable. (Answer: If you passably limber and not too big around, it’s doable.) I’m bothered that you can’t do this in any modern cars.

(ETA: And I always said I would never ride in a car, neither as driver nor passenger, which had those gawd-awful robotic seat belts, which I considered to be an abomination. As it happened, I only once had occasion to, at which time I, uh… capitulated. Lots of people must have objected – they seem to have disappeared mostly.)

I never heard that logic before, but I like it.

There was a French teenager whose parents were with him on vacation in the Caribbean, and they were all driving back from a party and the teen fell asleep in the backseat. Instead of waking him up they just went inside and let the boy sleep in the car assuming when he woke up he’d just head inside and be fine. Unfortunately the luxury car they were driving (Mercedes I believe) had some security features in it that made it so the kid couldn’t escape from the inside when the vehicle was locked. And he certainly tried, he had ripped the seats up, evidence showed he had kicked the hell out of the windows and etc because he was dying of overheating and he knew it. But all to no avail, by the time the parents discovered him he was dead.

So there are definitely some type of cars where yes you can be locked on the inside to the point of it being dangerous. I’ve never been clear on if this is just a standard and poorly thought out security feature on German luxury cars, or if this was a special vehicle that had been done over by those firms that specialize in armoring or hardening cars. I assume the windows at least would have to be some sort of special make, because while windshields might be hard to break from inside I’d think a teenage boy kicking a side window should have busted them out of a normal car.

I can tell you from experience that the direction it is going makes so little difference as to be meaningless.

That sounds like an urban legend. Got any info, because my searches turned up nothing.

Maybe he should have honked the horn?

My sister was on the way to an event with my two young sons once and ended up driving through a rainstorm. They got hit by lightning while she was driving down the road. No one was injured but the car was totaled and everyone had a great story to tell.

This has been a standard feature on many cars for many years, but as far as I know, for the rear doors only.

There should be a small, usually poorly-marked lever on the edge of the door (thus, accessible only when the door is open) that engages/disengages this kind of lock. In one position, the door cannot be opened from the inside. The specific purpose is to keep little kids in.

ETA: And on the cars I’ve seen, it doesn’t matter if the vehicle is otherwise locked. Each door, thus “protected” individually, cannot be opened from the inside, regardless of whether the door is otherwise “locked” or not, and regardless of the locked-status of other doors.

There are some European cars that when locked from the outside with the remote activate a deadbolt function that will not allow the doors to be opened from the inside.
This is an anti-theft feature that prevents a bad guy from using a slim jim or breaking a window and using the inner door handle to steal the car.
This is a perfect example of the engineers thinking nobody could be THAT stupid.
I did once get a call from a panicked lady whose battery was dead. It took a couple of minutes before I understood she was inside her car and thought she could not get out.
The conversation went like this:
You are inside the car?
In the front seat?
Pull the inner door handle
But it’s locked!
Humor me pull the door handle
Did it open?
Yes, you are so smart.

A real blond star moment.

Original news article from 2008. I believe it’s been so difficult to find because a few other prominent cases of teens dying in locked cars have come after the fact and obscured the search results of this older story (like a girl who died in a BMW in California recently.)

Also, here is an SDMB thread on the topic from the time this story happened.

But nevertheless, one end is ballpark 5 miles from the car, the other is 10". Clearly the shorter distance is not the limiting factor in the discharge trigger process. As well, the stepped leader formation is predominantly sky-down, not ground-up. So while I agree 100% that the primary power stroke of a negative lightning strike is really ground-to-cloud, I see that as mostly quibbling. Given the OP’s obvious lack of basic knowledge on the subject I didn’t want to introduce too much technical detail.

And don’t forget positive lightning events, which do have the power stroke firing from cloud-to-ground.