Caught in a tornado: What’s a driver to do?

What’s the scariest situation a truck driver can happen upon when behind the wheel?

Click here to see all 10 of the Worst Case Trucking Scenario panels.

Could be this: A tornado heading directly for you.

In the third installment of the Worst Case Trucking Scenarios, Overdrive examines what a driver should do if he or she happens upon a tornado, or if a tornado happens upon him. 

What should you do? Here’s a look:


Click the comic to see the full-sized version, or click here to see the full Worst Case Scenarios infographic.

Previous Worst Case posts:

Heart attack!


See the full list here.

  • terry2u

    I’m sorry, but there’s no way I’m climbing out of a dry cab in a driving rainstorm to go lay down in a water covered ditch. I’ll just stop and cover my head and hope for the best.

  • Hooty

    Good point. If at a truck stop go into the freezer? What truckstop would let you in their freezer? None that I have been to.

  • David McGaugh

    Yes that’s what I am gonna do, get out of my truck, lay on the ground next to it and wait for it to land on me. Oh but my hands will stop it from crushing my skull. Real rocket surgeon that up that one.

  • Pingback: What should you do when disaster strikes? | Poliakoff & Associates, PA

  • Certifiably Nutty

    I can see it as a new regulation – “when faced with impending storm, pull rig to side of the road and lay in ditch until storm passes.Time spent in ditch will not count as part of your mandatory break period.”

    Oh and make sure you log it because DOT will be patrolling after the storm to make sure there is 100% operator compliance.

  • carolyn

    Hooty, Sure they would let you in! But then, it would be: How to survive getting locked in a freezer!

  • Zachary Bell

    This only works if you see the tornado ahead of you. This does NOT work if the Tornado is coming at you, coming from behind you, or touches down on top of you. Therefore, the Red Cross has issued new guidance:
    1. Identify how wide the Tornado is and where it’s going.
    2. If it’s coming AT YOU (looks like it’s sitting still) or touches down ON TOP OF YOU: STOP! Then, while staying in your vehicle, duck BELOW the dashboard and put (or leave) your seat belt on. This especially holds true for drivers who have newer trucks with driver’s side SRS/air bag systems… the air bag will help protect you.
    3. If it’s crossing the road IN FRONT OF YOU, stop your vehicle and get into a ditch BEHIND where you park.
    4. If it’s chasing your trailer, treat it like a steer tire blowout: Step ON the accelerator, Steer as necessary and get yourself out of it’s path.

    The safest place is always a building with a reinforced tornado shelter (such as a sturdy house or office building with a basement or tornado cellar). However, in a pinch, you may be able to get into the deep freezer, shower room, rest room or under a counter at a truck stop to ride out the storm. Just make sure to RUN for the main building if a tornado approaches the truck stop.

  • Zachary Bell

    I don’t think they totally get the point… The key to surviving a tornado is to get or stay out of it’s path and if you do get hit, to protect yourself from getting hit with flying debris.

    I don’t think these guys are rocket surgeons, but here’s the one BIG rule they forgot: NEVER, EVER CLIMB UNDER AN OVERPASS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM A TORNADO. A Basement or storm cellar is the safest place you can be, followed by the cab of your truck, and then finally a ditch or truck stop cooler as a last resort.

    You don’t want to lay directly next to the truck, either… you want to be BEHIND and AWAY FROM the truck, in a low spot in the ditch if you must get out and lie down. If you carry and use a bike or motorcycle helmet in that worst case scenario, your chances of survival increase dramatically.

  • Zachary Bell

    Nutty, only a computer would be able to keep up with the speed of a twister. So no one will be compliant… and yes, the DOT will check! Time spent in the ditch does NOT count towards your 30 minute break… In fact, it’s on-duty, not driving.

  • Zachary Bell

    Great point. In fact, the cab of the truck can be safer than the ditch because of the driver’s air bag, padded dashboard and the cab’s safety cage construction. I would recommend you stay inside the cab, duck BELOW the dashboard and keep the seat belt or bunk restraint on instead of getting into the ditch in certain circumstances.

    A US Xpress driver survived getting blown off an overpass by an EF-5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma by doing the technique I just described.

  • Zachary Bell

    Some do in such an extreme event, but it’s very rare. Often, they will have a designated shower or rest room as a safe area.

  • Zachary Bell
  • cjmarley

    Is there more info on that because they don’t mention him using the technique you mention. He was actually trying to get out of his truck it says. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.