You’ve probably been there before: the solo practitioner believing they can do it all. They can drive the car, escort the principal into a building, and keep track of the environment simultaneously. Well, the sad truth is that this is impossible to do consistently and professionally. So, that’s where a security driver comes to the rescue.
But what is security driving anyway?
In a nutshell, it’s the science and art of operating the vehicle and taking care of the passengers. Thus, the security driver must be up-to-date with the latest gear and training. In fact, this individual needs to be a tech geek to a certain extent. But you don’t see many of those in our industry, do you?
The thing is that protection professionals are human beings, also. To that effect, they fall victim to optimism bias, which suggests that we:
- Overestimate the likelihood of positive events while
- Underestimating the possibility of adverse events.
Sometimes we feel we know enough to make the bad guys not attack our principal. Sadly, we think that we don’t need to up our skills often, geek out about tech, or work with someone who could complement our skill set. That’s a disaster in the making!
Anyhow, back to our transportation topic: Principals want to get from point A to point B to point C without much hassle. At the same time, they wish to avoid visible and invisible threats. The following section entangles the web of dangers you should keep an eye on.
Threats to look out for
As time passes, the number of threats accumulates. In fact, the wealthy and prominent face a myriad of risks wherever they are — at home, in the office, or anywhere in between. But what are those threats really, and can they all be eliminated?
It would take us a few hundred pages to list all the risks. However, let’s take a look at a few that are most prominent. These include:
- Tracking and explosive devices,
- Mechanical sabotage,
- Diversion tactics, and
- Noise devices.
Yet, the most common incidents are those where threat actors try to stop the car in order to commit a crime. Alternatively, they might create a diversion to buy time for an attack. Well, that’s not too hard to predict. Or is it? Well, it turns out that many wannabe security drivers don’t have the proper skills or knowledge to respond properly in such situations.
That is why we suggest creating an inventory of all the necessary precautions you should take before even getting in the vehicle.
For example, make a checklist with what needs to go into the first aid kit. Another list may be related to standard operating procedures while en route. In any case, see what works for you. But keep one thing in mind: If the checklist is too long, you will most likely neglect it.
At any rate, the client doesn’t care about how you make them safe as long as you do. And this applies to transportation just like to any other aspect of executive protection.
But, by now, you might be asking, can’t a regular chauffeur do everything we mentioned so far? In other words, why do you need a trained driver if a chauffeur suffices? So let’s explore this conundrum for a moment.
Everyday chauffeur vs. security driver
We don’t mean to be rude to regular chauffeurs. In fact, they are great service providers who have helped their clients excellently over the decades. Yet, we now need a shift in mindset due to the elevated threat levels worldwide.
Fifty years ago, there weren’t that many sophisticated threat actors who would know how to:
- Plant an explosive device,
- Implement a cyber attack, or
- Follow a target without them noticing.
With the rise of modern technology and ubiquitous knowledge, anyone with an internet connection can conduct attacks against the wealthy and prominent. Therefore, new threat levels warrant new professionals who can assuage clients’ concerns.
In that sense, some of the main advantages of hiring a security driver include the ability to:
- Maintain, select, and inspect a vehicle,
- Arrange seating positions for passengers,
- Use a substantial portion of the vehicle’s capability.
Tony Scotti, the father of modern-day professional security drivers, once wrote: “An average driver only needs to be able to use a minimum of 40% of a vehicle’s capability. On the other hand, a security driver needs to be operating with 80% of the vehicle’s capability. This requires training.”
True, many regular chauffeurs are aware of the increasing number of threats their clients face. Thus, they are enrolling in training programs to close their skills gap.
So, although it may be strenuous to make this transition, chauffeurs can learn to become security drivers. But — and here comes the unpleasant caveat — it isn’t easy to transition smoothly.
The catch is that executive protection specialists have been uniquely exposed to the intricacies of safeguarding the world’s wealthy and prominent. As a result, it’s much easier for the everyday bodyguard or EPA to transition to a security driver role than for the standard chauffeur to suddenly become a protector.
Another boring day
No matter what some people would have you believe, security driving isn’t about ramming through an ambush. Although, yes, that could be something you may need to do in extreme situations. But extreme situations are just that — a rarity that almost never materializes.
Although you should have SOPs to consider these extreme cases, most of your assignments will be uneventful. Sorry to break it to you!
Instead, we suggest focusing on prevention techniques rather than how you’ll respond if somebody starts shooting at the principal’s vehicle. These include things like inspecting the car every time you leave it unattended or checking for bugs that somebody may have placed while you were stuck in traffic.
Ultimately, you must realize that security driving relates to your customer service. In other words, it means creating an atmosphere of calm and safety so that the client will hire you again and again… and again. We all know how difficult it is to keep a recurring principal or have them hire you as part of their in-house team.
So, what do you do?
To help you elevate your learning and career, EP Access offers courses on becoming a hireable security driver. Learn anything from the comfort of your home or office!