Speed Kills, Precision Counts: Training Executive Protection Drivers

July 6, 2005
Protective driving courses for drivers and executive protection teams should provide not only precision training, but detailed testing and scoring

When your driver returns from security driver training, what proof do you have that he or she possesses the skills required to serve as a security driver? Has he been thoroughly tested and rated on his performance for each of the specific skills he is required to perform with precision? Most likely not. Almost all schools that teach protective and high-risk driving do not provide much more than a pass/fail designation. That is, unless your drivers have attended Advanced Driving & Security, Inc. (ADSI), where they are meticulously tested and objectively rated on every aspect of their protective and high-risk driving capability, with a full report provided to the corporate security director, transportation manager, or executive protection firm owner. This process demonstrates the driver's understanding of the subject matter and skill-level in utilizing the vehicle's capabilities.

"It is essential when looking for a training school that one asks about testing procedures and scoring systems," says Anthony Ricci, president of Advanced Driving & Security, Inc. "An experienced and professional school will have a structured test procedure in place so that the student can be properly evaluated. This evaluation must be based on solid evidence that can be proven. It is one thing to say a driver went fast, drove well, or did not hit anything, but what does that really mean? A professional school must bring testing and scoring to a totally different level. A report should be sent to the client stating, for example, "On this particular day, with these particular conditions, this driver was able to demonstrate the ability to utilize whatever-percent of the vehicle's capabilities (hopefully about 90%), and that your driver was certified to have maintained a competent level under induced stress."

ADSI's tests are based on mathematics, and the laws of physics. Each radius is pre-measured, speeds are controlled and they know the limitations of their cars. Any accident reconstructionist knows that when you put these variables into a lateral-acceleration or rate-of-deceleration formula, the results will show how much of the vehicle's capabilities were utilized to get through a particular turn or when brought to an emergency stop.

"When training a security driver, executive protection unit, or anyone in need of personal security, we need to remember lives are at stake," says Ricci. "For whatever reason, our principal could be targeted, or even worse has already been targeted. Who would you want driving the CEO of your company, or driving your family, a driver who is capable of using 30 percent of the boss's Ferrari, or a driver who can successfully use 90 percent of his family mini-van? When there is an obstacle in your path of travel 60 feet away, moving at 45 mph, you better hope that the driver can utilize at least 90 percent of that vehicle's performance capabilities, and not exceed them. It is not speed that counts, it is precision. The bottom line is that proper training saves lives."

Learning protective driving techniques so they can be performed without hesitation is critical. In the event of a vehicle-related attack, you may only have one chance for survival, and that one chance better be successful. Knowing how to use the vehicle to its fullest potential is vital. Having the ability to sense when the vehicle is reaching its limitations and staying within these limits is an extremely important part of driving out of the kill zone. It could be the difference between making it to a safe haven or landing in a ditch 100 feet from your attackers.

You do not need to know how to drive fast, but you do need to know how to control speed relevant to the situation and terrain. Learning to drive within the boundaries of your own vehicle-handling skill is equally vital. Hair-raising maneuvers and guerrilla-driving techniques are not always necessary to escape danger. With professional training, you will be able to execute protective and high-risk maneuvers, like ramming through barricades, and reverse 180 degree J-turns. But, these skills require a close-tolerance precision to master, which is best accomplished through practice based upon inertial physics, and a structured testing procedure that measures performance for each technique.

"Before our students even step into a car, they spend time in the classroom, learning about lateral acceleration, turning radiuses, and weight transference," explains Ricci. "We make it easy for them to understand. They learn the fine line between vehicle 'loss-of-control', and 'out-of-control' before they take on more advanced security techniques concerning escaping the kill zone. This training factors in time, distance and reacting to an attack. Having enough time and distance is crucial to evading a potential disaster. If a driver reacts within the first two to three seconds from when he first recognizes a dangerous situation, then he will increase his chances of survival ten-fold. Only after grasping these concepts does the student actually engage in protective driving maneuvers, and perfect these techniques so they can be performed without any hesitation."

Some of the protective and high-risk driving skills taught at ADSI include:
1. Controlling speed relative to lateral forces being applied to the vehicle
2. Braking while turning, without losing steering ability
3. Evasive maneuvers around simulated road hazards
4. Emergency evacuation drills - J-turns and double J-turns
5. Reacting to vehicle attacks
6. Emergency lane changes
7. On- and off-road recoveries
8. Escaping from carjackings
9. Motorcade operations: two- and three-car convoys
10. Barricade ramming
11. Pit maneuvers, and defense from pit maneuvers
12. Defense against moving ambush and moving barricades

By training security drivers and executive protection teams to this excelled level of precision in protective and high-risk driving, it greatly increases the student's chances of survival if and when the real-life driving situation demands split-second action. What is at stake is not less than your life, and that of your principal.

Anthony Ricci, president of Advanced Driving & Security Inc., has successfully trained many law enforcement agencies, government and military organizations, corporations, and private executive protection specialists for more than ten years in security and tactical driving. His specialized areas of instruction include protective driving, VIP and dignitary protection, police instructor's certification, and anti-terrorist driving. Ricci holds a Masters degree in International Business. He is an active member of ASLET, ALERT, ASIS, NSC, RITOA, and NACP.

ADSI is on the web at www.1adsi.com.