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Tornado safety while driving

Many people think it is safe to take shelter under an overpass or bridge if caught driving during a tornado. Actually, an overpass may be one of the worst places to seek shelter from a tornado. Using an overpass as tornado shelter can put people at a greater risk of being killed or seriously injured by flying debris from the powerful tornado winds.

Destructive winds from a tornado produce airborne debris that are blown into and channeled under the overpass. Debris of varying size and types moving at incredible speeds can easily penetrate clothing and skin, causing serious injuries and possibly death. A person can even be blown out or carried away from the overpass. If a person is positioned at the top of an overpass, he/she could encounter even higher wind speeds and more missile-like debris. Wind direction will also shift abruptly as the tornado passes, tossing debris from all sides.

If you are caught driving when a tornado is forming the best thing to do is drive to a nearby building and take shelter in an interior room without windows or in a basement. If there is no available shelter, find the nearest ditch or low-lying area and crouch low to the ground covering your head with your arms. Never seek shelter under your car. The strong winds could cause it to roll over you.

Never try and outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Tornadoes have the potential to travel over 60 mph and they don’t have to follow road patterns. Driving on a 90-degree angle away from the tornado is a good strategy to follow in order to distance yourself from the tornado.

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