194 – IIHS Crash Test, OEM Armored Manufacturers, and Telematics Monitoring

In this week’s episode, we share information on a recent IIHS crash test, other OEM armored vehicles besides the Mercedes Guard Car, and the use of telematics devices for monitoring by insurance companies.

Listen to the Podcast

IIHS Crash Test

A new crash test showed modest speed increases can have deadly consequences.

The crash test data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have shown that small increases in speed can have huge effects on crash outcomes as shown in their new tests conducted by the AAA Foundation for traffic safety. They found that slightly higher speeds were enough to increase the driver’s risk of severe injury or death

If you have read any of ISDA Science of Driving articles or attended a Scotti School in the past or a VDI training program in the present, there should be no surprise that a small increase in speed creates a huge effect on the outcome of an event – be it accident or vehicle violence. We have been preaching for decades that you can’t arbitrarily increase speeds.

In the past, we consistently demonstrated in every exercise we conduct how minute changes in speed can affect the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. We would demonstrate to students how as little as two miles an hour can make the difference between success and failure, which brings us to what we really want to talk about – protective driver training.

In our Podcast Episode 192 Best Practices for Protective Driver Training, we covered how driving training exercises must replicate a known incident or situation as closely as possible, and create the same forces that a driver will experience in a behind-the-wheel emergency. Those forces that the driver experiences are related to the speed.

Trainers you cannot conduct driver training without accurately measuring the vehicle speed. To accomplish that it requires a speed measuring device such as a radar gun or onboard computer.

The student’s speeds need to be monitored at all times. The reason has been stated above as little as 2 miles an hour increase in speed can change the outcome of the event. An instructor cannot measure a two MPH difference by standing outside the vehicle watching the vehicle drive by or by sitting next to the driver looking at the speedometer. Both options border on comical. The analogy that can be made is that you would not conduct a shooting program without bullets or without shooting at a target.

OEM Armored Vehicle Manufacturers

Whenever we write or talk about armored vehicles, we always mention the Mercedes-Benz Guard Car. We fail to note that there are other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that produce and sell armored vehicles.

At least four other vehicle manufacturers make armored vehicles.

Audi A8L

The first-mentioned is the Audi A8 L Security vehicle.

Audi A8 L Security is an armored sedan that combines the incredible luxury of the A8 L that complies with a VR9 protection rating.

According to AUDI, converting a standard A8 L to the Security spec takes around 400 hours and is powered by the twin-turbo 4.0-liter from the S8 Audi.

The L stands for long wheelbase, which means that the vehicle’s wheelbase has been extended, allowing for more legroom in the rear; the A8 L extends the wheelbase 5.1 inches longer than the standard vehicle.

According to the company press releases, the security version of the A8 meets the requirements of the VR 9 resistance; the car doesn’t come cheap its price is $750,000.



Audi A8 L Security W12 armored car – driven on track (video)

Audi launches the new armored Audi A8 L Security


BMW armors the BMW X5 SUV. It is called BMW Protection and is armored to VR6. It is hard to distinguish the armored version from a standard model – neither from the outside nor inside.

Additionally, this vehicle is certified according to the ERV 2010 and PAS 300 guidelines. We will be covering the PAS 300 Armored vehicle testing Guidelines in a future podcast episode and blog post.

The BMW & 7 Series Protection vehicle is not displayed on their website other than a picture under the diplomatic tab; we are not sure if that means they do not sell them to the open public.

If you Google BMW & Protection, you will get an abundance of information.



Range Rover Sentinel

Range Rover Sentinel is another OEM Armored vehicle. Their website does not supply much information about the vehicle other than to contact them. Most of the articles written about the vehicle use words like bombproof and bulletproof.

An article we found while researching states that the Sentinel takes the latest Range Rover model and adds armor plating and a full suite of safety features and gadgets that would make Britan’s own 007 proud. Composite and steel armor plating provides protection from small arms fire and explosive devices in accordance with international standards. That adds over 2,200 pounds to the SUV, but a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 and upgraded suspension and brakes help offset some of the weight gains. Run-flat tires allow for driving on damaged rubber for over 30 miles at speeds of up to 50 MPH. For those with a dangerous daily commute, the Range Rover Sentinel offers world-class luxury and protection.



Volvo XC90

The last OEM is the Volvo XC90 Armored (Heavy)
The Volvo website says that the heavy-armored Volvo XC90 SUV provides unrivaled comfort and safety while offering the highest level of personal protection (VPAM VR8 ballistic and explosive certification).

The site goes to mention that the Volvo XC90 Armored is the result of a close collaboration with one of the world’s leading armored vehicle suppliers, TRASCO-Bremen GmbH.

Volvo also offers the XC90 and XC60 in a Light Armored Version
Volvo offers the SUVs XC90 and XC60 with light armoring that provide certified ballistic protection according to the stringent American NIJ-IIIA standards. This makes these SUVs the perfect choice for private customers who need extra protection and security services, and police forces in their tactical operations.

The complete SUV is certified according to American NIJ-IIIA standards combined with VPAM BRV 2009 for light armored vehicles. We secure the functionality on all parts and safety systems.

If you know of other OEM’s that manufacture armored vehicles – let us know.


An article in the Wall Street Journal discussed Allstate insurance company lobbying aligning car insurance premiums to driver skills. According to the article, many customers are not happy that their vehicle insurance rates are tied to, among other metrics, their credit score.

In a LexisNexis Usage-Based Insurance study, almost 9 in 10 drivers (88%) said they prefer auto insurance pricing based on their actual driving skills. Also, another 71% of drivers noted that they think telematics, including driving behavior data, are among the fairest ways to set a price for the insurance if they perceive a benefit.

By monitoring a driver’s behavior, the insurers can track data and tailor the individuals’ rates. But they are also not happy about using a telematics system that can track how they drive. We are not sure how, if at all, telematics is good for the secure transportation industry.

So, what are telematics and what does it measure? Telematics data is collected through devices that plug in to the ODB II port which is located usually below the dashboard on the driver’s side near the steering column. These devices collect and measure data related to driving habits and behaviors. This includes:

  • How many miles a car is driven per day, week or month. The more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident.
  • What time of day the car tends to be driven. Driving in the middle of the night means your visibility is lower than during the day.
  • How well or poorly the car is driven. Sudden braking, sharp turns, and violating traffic rules all increase your risk of getting into an accident.
  • That includes those who speed, take corners too aggressively, brake too quickly and drive long distances, or mostly at night.

Additionally, telematics devices can monitor and inform insurers of things such as:

  • Car speed
  • Vehicle position
  • Trip length and distance
  • Hard braking
  • Seat-belt usage
  • Fuel usage
  • Engine acceleration

Be aware that if you have very poor driving habits and sign up for a telematics-based insurance policy, you could be penalized with higher rates

Our opinion is that it should not be called measuring driving skills – it’s more measuring driving habits. For the corporate community, I’m not sure if the cost is a factor, but the private provider of Secure Transportation services could use these devices to decrease overhead. From a security standpoint, we don’t see it being a good idea. There are enough devices and information out there already that can determine when and where you and the principal will be.

Also, the question we have is who owns the data the device collects? Some of the insurance companies “guarantee” that the information remains with them.

If interested, we suggest googling Vehicle insurance and telematics. Also, if you are curious, there are telematics devices that you can purchase with Bluetooth enabled that connect to an app on your smartphone so you can see the data graphically.

Join the ISDA

Do you have an interest in going much deeper into these topics? If so, I invite you to check out the International Security Driver Association’s website and consider joining the membership. Upon entering, you will access the encyclopedia of executive protection and secure transportation – The ISDA Knowledge Center.

For more information on all of the member benefits, head over to isdacenter.org.

Leave a Reply