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How to Survive in Your Car During an Earthquake

In Southern California, we spend a lot of time on the road. Some of us may be in a car when an earthquake happens. Here are some AAA recommendations:


1. If you are driving when an earthquake strikes, pull over on the shoulder of the road. To avoid being struck by other motorists, signal and turn on your hazard lights. If you are on an overpass, wait until you are on solid ground before you stop.

2. When you pull over, find a spot where your vehicle will be most safe from falling debris.

3. If you are driving on an elevated road, park your vehicle away from the expansion joints because concrete slabs could fall off their supports during the earthquake.

4. After you park your car, turn the engine off immediately. Damage to your vehicle could create a situation where your car catches fire or even explodes.

5. After you’ve turned off your engine, engage your emergency brake. This should keep your car from rolling backwards or forwards if the ground becomes un-level..


1. Turn your radio to a news station for information about the earthquake’s intensity and epicenter, relevant evacuation routes, rescue efforts, and instructions for people hurt or trapped by the event.

2. Even if the shaking has subsided, stay in your vehicle and assess the situation. If the earthquake was minor and you think you can safely drive away, do so – but be careful. When assessing the situation, pay attention to:

o downed powerlines.
o the condition of the road.
o whether other people are getting out of their cars. o if you smell gasoline or natural gas.
o whether your vehicle is damaged or not.

3. If you are injured or trapped in your vehicle, alert others immediately. You can do this by waving to people, shouting, or using a noise-making device from your survival kit.

4. Whether you are in the middle of an earthquake or afterwards, exit your car immediately if you smell gasoline–your car could catch fire or even explode.

5. If you are near water and hear a tsunami alert, leave your car and run to the nearest large and tall building. You’ll likely be safer doing this than trying to flee in your vehicle. When you get to the building move to at least the second or third floor.