Earthquakes may not be common, but they can strike in every region of the country — and usually without warning. Drivers should know what to do if one hits when they're behind the wheel.
Experts offer the following advice on driving during an earthquake:
- Slow down, look for an open area, and pull over.
- Avoid parking near bridges, overpasses, signs, building overhangs, power lines, trees, or anything that might fall onto your vehicle.
- Turn off the engine, put the parking brake on and keep seat- belted in your car until the earthquake is over.
- Listen to your radio for official instructions, updates, warnings and advice.
- Look around for fallen trees and/or power lines. One of the most dangerous situations is when a power line falls on a vehicle. If this happens, stay inside the car and wait for emergency crews to arrive and remove it. In the meantime, do not touch windows, doors or metal surfaces.
- Finally, do not resume driving after an earthquake until authorities have officially cleared road travel.
Driving after an earthquake requires the utmost caution as well. Drivers should expect tremors and aftershocks that can easily dislodge concrete from damaged buildings. Allstate Insurance Company offers the following advice for driving after an earthquake:
- Avoid roadways, ramps and bridges that may have been damaged even if there isn't any visible damage.
- Look out for cracks and breaks in the pavement and never drive over a fallen power line.
- Be aware of traffic light outages and road obstructions.
- Stay extra alert for panicked or distracted drivers on the road.
- If driving in a mountainous or rocky area, be wary of the potential for landslides onto the road.
To learn more about what to do if you are behind the wheel when an earthquake hits, watch this video from the Southern California Earthquake Center.