Editor’s note: “The Driver’s Triangle©” first appeared in print in Tony Scotti’s book, Police Driving Techniques, in 1988. It has been part of his training for more than 45 years.
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 Driver Triangle™. If there is an accident or a successful ambush, it is caused by a failure of the triangle, the driver, the vehicle, or the environment failed.
Most accidents (89%) or ambushes are caused by driver error. The driver is responsible for the successful implementation of the DRIVER/MACHINE relationship. The driver has to know and understand the capabilities of the vehicle-driver combination. The driver’s ability to maneuver out of an emergency is a measurable skill. A skill level is a number that indicates how much of the vehicle capability the driver can use. The simple fact is the higher the number, the better the chances of survival. Given a vehicle and an environment they must drive through, security drivers must know what they are capable of and, better yet, what they are not capable of.
Most passenger vehicles are good-handling vehicles. But there are scenarios where the vehicle’s handling capabilities are lowered due to an increase in the vehicle’s security posture (i.e., 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 are higher than others. The vehicle, like the driver, has a measurable capability, which translates to a number. The higher the vehicle’s number, the greater the chances of survival.
You cannot separate the driver from the vehicle. A good security driver understands vehicle dynamics and works to anticipate changes in vehicle behavior, and is ready to maximize its capability. A lousy driver reacts to whatever happens.
Driving in the non-security world, the environment is the weather, traffic, and road design. If the road surface has been modified by nature, then the driver and machine portion of the driving system must cope with these changes.
In the security world, the environment includes the security conditions the driver has to maneuver through. The driver/vehicle combination can have high survival numbers, but in a high-risk environment, they are at the mercy of the security environment. As much as possible, try to control the environment, but there are times, especially in a high-risk environment, when that is not an easy task.