Episode 145 – Security Driver Training and Braking

In episode 145 of the Executive Protection and Secure Transportation podcast we talked about Security Driver Training and Braking.

We strongly suggest that anyone who attends a Security Driving training program is measured in accordance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 135.  

What is Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard?

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to implement laws from Congress. The FMVSS are regulations written in terms of minimum safety performance requirements for motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment. These requirements are specified in such a manner that the public is protected against unreasonable risk of crashes occurring as a result of the design, construction, or performance of motor vehicles and is also protected against unreasonable risk of death or injury in the event crashes do occur.

The purpose of the FMVSS 135 standard is to ensure safe braking performance under normal and emergency driving conditions.

As a security driver, you must be able to perform at a much higher level than “minimum” (it is what you get paid to do). 

Although most drivers realize that the higher the car’s speed, the more distance required to stop, what is surprising to many drivers is how much additional distance it takes to stop a vehicle with just a small increase in speed. The fact is that if you double your speed, you increase your stopping distance by a factor of four.

  • If you increase your speed from 40 to 44 mph, speed has increased by 10%, but stopping distance has increased by 20%.
  • If you increase your speed from 40 to 50 mph, speed has increased by 25%, but stopping distance has increased by 50%.

The numbers listed above are not affected by the method of braking used. It makes no difference if a driver brakes with their left foot – threshold brakes – or uses a parachute to stop. If the speed is doubled, the stopping distance increases by a factor of four. The bottom line you cannot arbitrarily increase your speed, it’s literally deadly.

Threshold Brake with ABS

As a side note – Do Not Threshold Brake with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) vehicle. With a vehicle equipped with ABS, press as hard as your foot can press and let the computer do its job. 

Here is an example:

While conducting a braking test to confirm our forensic analysis of Omar García Harfuch’s Ambush, the VDI testing team came across an interesting piece of data.

With a highly-skilled driver behind the wheel of the B6 Suburban – Highly skilled defined as years of experience working in high-risk environments and conducting protective driver training programs for the military and government – he drove through a breaking exercise designed to replicate the Omar Garcia Harfuch ambush.

He first stopped the B6 Suburban using threshold breaking – we are repetitive but keeping mind the driver had years of experience breaking in this manner.

Then he drove the same vehicle in the same scenario applying the ABS brakes without using threshold breaking.

The Data

Using threshold breaking, it took the driver 160 feet or 48.3 meters to stop the vehicle.

Without using a threshold braking just to applying the brakes as hard as possible, it required 94 feet or 28.4 meters to stop the vehicle; the difference in stopping distance is considerable.

It took this experienced threshold ABS braking driver 70% longer to stop the vehicle using threshold breaking than it did without.         

If the driver of Omar Garcia Harfuch’s vehicle tried to use threshold braking, the ambush outcome would have been significantly different.

Also, a significant component of braking to avoid an emergency is about where you look while the emergency is unfolding. Car manufacturers have been studying this phenomenon for a while. Simply stated – your hands go where your eyes look. As soon as the emergency presents itself, look for a place to put the vehicle. Look where you want the vehicle to go, and your hands will follow your eyes. Many times, the driver’s eyes fixate on the object they are trying to avoid, and the result is they drive into it.


When looking at an executive protection training program, consider that the chances of a student using the skills taught at a weapons program, it pales in comparison to the possibilities of using the skills taught in a protective driver training program. 

Be careful about increasing speeds – for every 10% increase in speed, it is a 20% increase in stopping distance.

As a student, ask your instructor – “What was my Rate of Deceleration,” and how does it compare to the Vehicles Rate of Deceleration and FMVSS 135.

When confronted with an emergency, press the brake pedal as hard as possible.

The sooner and harder the brake pedal is pressed, the more steering the driver will have available for driving out of the emergency.

Look where you want to put the vehicle.

If you enjoyed the podcast episode and have an interest in learning more about Security Driving, Secure Transportation, or Executive Protection we suggest you consider joining the ISDA Membership. The International Security Driver Association (ISDA) is a small but influential group of protective services practitioners from all sectors of the Executive Protection/ Secure Transportation profession and all parts of the Globe.

As an ISDA Member, you gain access to the Encyclopedia of EP/Secure Transportation Knowledge – The ISDA Knowledge Center. The Center provides articles – Podcasts – Books – YouTube videos – Free Online Training – Business and Salary Metrics – Job Opportunities – Career Advice – Industry White Papers.

Educational Benefits

Marketing Benefits

On-Going Research

Frequently Asked Questions

Leave a Reply