Many executive protection experts argue that security is always a compromise. In fact, they claim that it is impossible to perfectly guard the principal while simultaneously allowing them any freedom of movement. However, EP operatives can still do plenty to help ensure custom-made protection is at hand. On that note, some protection professionals regard security drivers as the first and last line of defence against malefactors.
But what do the duties of security drivers entail? Generally speaking, they are in charge of:
- Driving the principal’s vehicle,
- Route planning (in conjunction with the security team leader),
- Arranging the seating positions in the car,
- Ensuring the layout of the interior is as per the principal’s expectations and that of the security team leader,
- Fixing malfunctions, repairing other vehicle-related issues, and
- Helping make sure that their clients – HNWIs, business executives and other high-ranking principals – enjoy maximum productivity while en route, and
- Balancing security with comfort.
Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as an excessive number of protective staff. Yet, security drivers rarely fall into that category.
For instance, they frequently brainstorm an all-encompassing range of vehicle-related contingencies. Therein, they gain a better insight into how to prepare for the possibility of various incidents. And incidents do happen. They may include a punctured or flat tire, a car computer or electronic failure, a mechanical breakdown or limited movement options.
Quick tip: Security experts describe an incident as anything which is untoward or has even a slight probability of impacting a task or mission. By definition, incidents can catch close protection operatives by surprise, but that is what contingency planning is for ― to be capable of responding in any event.
One Person, Multiple Roles
Occasionally, the EP operative may double up and take on the duties of a security driver. We rarely recommend this, as it reduces the protective efforts.
When doubling up, the protection operative would be tasked with simultaneously driving the vehicle and then opening and closing the door for the principal. In addition, they would need to escort the client outside while leaving the car unattended ― and even take care of parking. In other words, too many tasks for a single individual.
The principal or their staff may request the designated security driver to participate in selecting a vehicle that is both comfortable and secure. This is obviously an important responsibility.
Thus, in this article, we will explore more why security drivers present an invaluable asset for the safety of the principal and their immediate environment.
How to Manage Vehicle Security
One of the best solutions to help ensure the security of the principal vehicle is to introduce strict security precautions. Expectedly, some of them include equipping the car with alarm systems that emit sounds at the command post or a protection operative’s phone, aside from the local audible alarm. This will provide early warning for vehicles approaching or departing the residence or known locations.
Similarly, we suggest locking the car doors and setting the alarms even if the CP team parks the vehicle in a locked garage on a secured and gated estate.
During the night, wherever possible, the principal vehicle should be placed under video surveillance in a well-lighted area. Apart from posing a solid deterrent to malicious actors, operating in such a manner will also ensure peace of mind among the protective staff and the principal, their entourage and family.
As for public places, ideally wherever possible, the driver will remain with the vehicle. However, where this has not occurred, it is the responsibility of security drivers not to start the engine or operate the vehicle. That is, until they visually inspect the situation around and under the car, check for planted devices or signs of tampering, and examine:
- Wheel wells,
- Gas/petrol intake, and
- Exhaust pipe.
As proficient security drivers are well aware, the hood-locking device should only be accessible from inside the vehicle. In addition, we advise using cars with a locking cap cover that can only be operated from within the vehicle.
As expected, the driver must be in sync with all vehicle-related technologies and mechanics. Ultimately, they should accompany the vehicle to a reliable and known dealership or service station during service and maintenance. By doing so, they limit the potential for tampering that could produce harmful outcomes later on.
In Transit with the Principal
During public events and while en route, security drivers must ensure that windows are rolled up and doors locked. This best practice helps prevent ill-intentioned individuals from throwing items into the car or harming anyone inside. In the event that windows seals need to be broken for any reason, winding them down by 2-4cms should provide enough space to communicate with those outside of the vehicle.
Route selection will be conducted prior to departing venues. This includes primary and secondary routes. In collaboration with the security team leader, the driver will implement changes from primary to secondary routes where the security threat or conditions dictate. By implementing this system, the EP team imposes a deterrent and increases the probability of safe and secure transport from point A to point B.
In many cases, the security driver and team leader may choose the most direct and well-travelled route. In others, the motorcade or vehicle may come across stranded motorists requesting assistance, or a roadblock that happens to be erected on the same route.
Each incident is unique and the situation will lend itself to experience and guidance by the security driver or team leader. However, in these instances, we recommend not stepping outside of the vehicle, as this poses an elevated risk to the principal. In this case, contingency plans or “Action On” protocols should step in.
Quick tip: Although using public roads is vital, sometimes the need may arise to select an alternative route. In this sense, the CP team must set in motion a pre-prepared plan to execute the mission of safely transporting the principal and their entourage.
Residence Selection and Security Drivers
Famous author Peter Consterdine goes to great lengths to discuss dilemmas pertaining to suitable accommodation for the principal and their entourage as they relate to travelling. He emphasises some of the main reasons for choosing between urban, suburban, and rural areas.
Urban accommodation usually:
- Lacks privacy,
- Implies congested traffic,
- Provides ample cover for malicious surveillance, but
- Presents a benefit in terms of adequate police and emergency services response and good communications.
Suburban accommodation typically:
- Resembles that of urban areas but with enhanced privacy,
- Provides fewer opportunities for opposition surveillance, and
- Ensures slower but satisfactory police reaction time.
Rural accommodation normally:
- Presents a challenge due to isolation but promises significantly more privacy than with urban and suburban areas,
- Limits the choice of escape routes,
- Makes communications more complicated, and
- Prevents emergency services from arriving timely.
Security drivers should consider all these points when discussing accommodation options with the principal, their assistants, or other staff members.
It goes without saying that the security driver must have the relevant certification and driver’s licence in place. Moreover, they need to possess adequate defensive driving skills and be well-versed in all things car technology and mechanics.
For these reasons, we urge against hiring a chauffeur while in transit with the principal. The reason is that a regular driver typically has no relevant knowledge of planning travels and alternative routes, evasive driving, and other items that proficient security drivers deal with in their daily work.
Finally, high-net-worth individuals and business executives need proficient driving operators on their security details to:
- Facilitate vehicle security and selection,
- Establish standard protocols for all passengers to follow,
- Ensure that the vehicles are always safe, even when left unattended,
- Fix car system malfunctions, handle all mechanical issues, and
- Be aware of emergency services nearby and know how to reach them quickly.
With experienced security drivers on our teams, Panoptic Solutions supports individuals and organisations in enhancing productivity and peace of mind by offering unmatched services.