Episode 167 – Security Drivers Triangle

The Essence of Security Driving is Found in the Security Drivers Triangle.

The driver’s ability to avoid vehicle violence does not depend solely on their ability to control the vehicle. A driver is at the mercy of the environment and of the vehicle, they are driving.

Driving, any form of driving, is a balance, and that balance is called the “driving system.” The driving system is made up of three components: THE DRIVER, THE MACHINE, and THE ENVIRONMENT. In our world, it is called the Security Drivers Triangle. If a triangle’s failure causes an accident or a successful ambush, the driver, the vehicle, or the environment failed.

The Driving System is taken from an age-old concept called “The Safety Triangle.” The Safety Triangle is made up of three components:  THE MAN, THE MACHINE, and THE ENVIRONMENT. It was initially used around the beginning of the industrial revolution when people started to interact with machines. The Safety Triangle was used as a tool to prevent industrial accidents – merely pointing out that when an accident occurs, it is caused by one of the components of the Safety Triangle failing. The automotive industry adopted the concept and called it the Driving System and used the idea to define accident causation. Five decades back, the Scotti School used the same model to describe Security Driving and Secure Transportation.

Our model redefined the Triangle’s corners to reflect the Security Driver and Secure Transportation profession’s needs. Suppose there is a vehicle accident or a successful act of vehicle violence, one of three things failed. In that case, The Man – which is the Driver, the Machine – which is the Vehicle or the Environment – which in our model is not only weather, road conditions, etc. – it includes the security environment.

The Driver

As the statistics indicate, 85 percent of all attacks against the principal happen near a vehicle. The number may vary, but we have never seen lower than 50 percent. Some 89 percent of all vehicular accidents are caused by driver error. Data also indicates that the number one killer in the workplace is vehicle accidents.  2019 statistics show that motor vehicle accidents cause 40% of all deaths in the workplace. The driver is responsible for vehicle occupants’ safety and security and the successful implementation of the driver/machine relationship. To accomplish this, the driver must know and understand the capabilities of the vehicle-driver combination. The driver’s ability to maneuver out of an emergency is a measurable skill.

When looking at driving skills, there has been a great deal of research done, money spent, and data collected to understand better how drivers make decisions in emergencies. The result of all this research is the advancements that have been made in measuring driving skill and, therefore, survivability in an emergency scenario. Simply put, you wouldn’t allow a security professional to carry a gun without first measuring their ability to use it: so why would you let someone drive your principal if you don’t measure their ability to do so?

The skill level can be expressed as a number that indicates how much of the vehicle’s capability the Driver can use. The higher the number, the better the chances of survival. A security driver’s skill level must meet a minimum standard. If one attends a protective driver training program, their skill level must be tested and measured via computer; the time and distance allowed to measure that level of skill must also be measured via computer.

Security drivers must have the skill to use a minimum of 80 percent of the vehicle’s capability, measured in four modes of driving and within a specific timeframe, measured by a computer. The standard of 80 percent Was developed in the late 1970s by the Scotti School. From our research, we found white papers and studies conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers that indicated that the average driver, when confronted with an emergency, can only use 40% of the vehicle’s capability before they relinquish control of the vehicle (give up). 

After a considerable amount of testing and evaluation, we decided that a good driver should use a minimum of 80% of the vehicle’s capability in the three modes of vehicle operation. The 80% standard must be a measured minimum amount of time and space to be considered for employment as the CEO’s Driver—hence the 80% became our standard for the driver portion of the Triangle. 

The 80% standard has withstood the test of time. Forty-five years ago, the goal was to create a standard and training system accepted by the K&R and Corporate community, and that was accomplished.

The Machine

Most passenger vehicles are good handling vehicles. But there are scenarios where the vehicles handling capabilities are lowered due to an increase in the vehicle’s security posture (armored vehicles). However, no matter how well or poorly a vehicle handles, it is only a machine, and like all machines, it has its limitations, some vehicles higher than others. Like the driver, the vehicle has a measurable capability, which translates to a number; the higher the vehicle’s number, the greater the chances of survival. Security driving requires the use of vehicles with varying characteristics, and a security driver must be aware of how those characteristics affect the driving task.

With the advent of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Executive vehicles are changing at an exponential rate.

An algorithm controls all ADAS systems. The definition of an algorithm is a formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem. The issue is the words “particular problem.” The algorithm is designed to solve “problems” concerning safety, not necessarily security. Security drivers now need to be aware of the effect the vehicle’s ADAS system has on security.

The machine corner of the triangle can also be separated into security and safety  – other than the apparent security feature of armor; there are other vehicle’s attribute that are controlled by ADAS that need to be understood and monitored.


Before we move onto the Machine corner of the Triangle, it needs to be mentioned that you cannot separate the Driver from the vehicle. For decades we have used a metric call the Driver Vehicle Index (DVI). It’s a number that combines a vehicle’s capability with the driver’s skill level to use that capability.

As an example, if there is a vehicle that can handle at .8 G’s and is driven by a driver that can use 80% of the vehicle capability, which is 80% of the 8 g’s, then the DVI is .64 or 64% DVI we arrive at the number by multiplying the .8 G’s vehicle capability by the  driver ability to use 80% or .8 of the vehicles capability (which is .8 times .8) arriving a  DVI of .64 or 64%

Suppose that the same driver gets into a vehicle capable of handling at .6 GS, your average armored car. In that case, the 80% driver creates an index of 48%—arrived at by multiplying the driver’s 80% ability to use the vehicle’s 60% capability.

This decrease in the DVI is not a problem if the driver is trained and understands how to maximize the vehicle’s capability; simply put, a good security driver understands vehicle dynamics and works to anticipate changes in the vehicle behavior, and is ready to maximize the vehicles capability. A bad driver simply reacts to whatever happens.


In the non-security world, the environment simply means the weather, traffic, and road design. If the road surface has been modified by nature, the driver and machine must cope with these changes. For a security driver, the environment includes the security conditions the driver must maneuver through. The driver/vehicle combination can have a high survival number, but in a high-risk environment, they are at the mercy of the security environment. As much as possible, a security driver must try to control the environment they drive through,  but there are times when managing the environment is not an easy task.

In our opinion, the most neglected portion or corner of the security driver triangle is the environment, specifically the use of surveillance detection and controlling the environment, and understanding the environment. In a series of recent vehicle ambush, it was clear that the victims drove into a no-win scenario. For decades it has been our onion that in many environments, especially high-risk environments that the most important skill one can acquire is surveillance detection; in many current scenarios, it was not only the best protection was the only protection.

If you have interest in learning more on these topics, I invite you to check out the International Security Driver Association’s website ISDACenter.Org and get access to the encyclopedia of executive protection and secure transportation – The ISDA knowledge center. The knowledge shared encompasses a wide range of EP and ST focused topics with resources, information, and metrics. For more information on all of the member benefits, head over to https://isdacenter.org.

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