by Gauk
Tue, Mar 28, 2017 11:20 PM

He kept some of the most famous, high profile, targeted people on the planet safe. Now, for the very first time ‘The Protector’ reveals tactical and defensive driving techniques that should be covered by the Official Secrets Act


About The Protector 

From humble beginnings as a naive bobby on the street, The Protector worked his way through the ranks becoming a pivotal figure in combating some of the world’s most active and dangerous terrorist and paramilitary organisations. He had a particular talent for being in the right place at the right time cutting down the enemy at its core.

Millions of citizens slept soundly because The Protector didn’t!

His talents did not go unnoticed by ‘the bosses’ and he was hand-picked for numerous special assignments.

He managed surveillance and counter surveillance in Northern Ireland in the early eighties, a frightening and dangerous place for a British serviceman.

He protected the likes of Margaret Thatcher, members of the Royal Family most notably Diana. He was the personal Protector of people so important that if his was not at the very peak of his game and the enemy had succeeded, the world would have been a very different place. 

The Protector was finally retired after being run over by the very terrorist organisation he had, for so many years, hounded. 

The Protector has so many secrets to tell but he’s gagged by The Official Secrets Act and now lives a quite life in the shadows with his family.

BUT Stealth Driving is something he can talk about and in this extensive and revealing manual, he spills the beans.

Now most readers will not be not planning to go to Somalia or Afghanistan but there is so much that we can learn from the extensive training The Protector undertook that this manual will keep you safe in today’s urban jungle.

From Road rage to surveillance, from tactical driving all the way to hijacking and personal safety … it’s all here.

Enjoy! The Protector

How  to Use This Manual

  • Copyright and Disclaimers


  • Why"Stealth Driving"
  • The need for different Driving skills

Chapter One :: Choosing a Vehicle

  • Working alone or as a team ?
  • Choosing a "Grey'' vehicle
  • Additional equipment ?
  • Purpose Built Surveillance Vehicles
  • Checklist

Chapter Two :: Basic Driving Skills

  • Remembering the basics of Driving
  • How Attitude can alter your Driving
  • Checklist

Chapter Three :: Advanced Driving Techniques

  • Risk Awareness & Avoidance
  • Predictive Skills
  • "Controlling" other drivers
  • Signals, Warnings &  Avoiding Conflict
  • Weight, Balance and Maintaining Grip
  • Braking Skills
  • Cadence Braking
  • Threshold Braking
  • Checklist

Chapter Four :: Surveillance Driving

  • Target selection and recognition
  • Progressive Target Surveillance
  • Multiple Target Surveillance
  • Avoiding the Obvious Mistakes
  • Checklist

Chapter Five :: Counter Surveillance

  • Avoiding being targeted
  • Identifying the watchers
  • Losing a "tall" safely
  • Informing the Authorities
  • Checklist

Chapter Six :: Hijacking & Personal Safety

  • Recognising the Risk of Hijacking
  • Typical Hijacking Techniques
  • Avoiding the  Hijack
  • Extreme Solutions
  • Checklist

Chapter Seven :: Ambush & Vehicle Tampering

  • Anticipating the use of weapons
  • Avoiding ambush
  • Vehicle Tampering
  • Checklist

Conclusion 85

  • Exercises
  • Tables

How to use this manual

Successful Stealth Driving can only be achieved by understanding your own driving habits and predicting those of others.

To  make  the  best  possible  use  of  the  Stealth  Driving  manual  simply read through the manual once, highlighting the areas that you genuinely had never considered before. Then, by using the exercises and diagrams shown, you should spend one whole day on each area that you need to learn, not only reading, but going out and practising techniques. Only this way will the vast amount of detail   that is required of a good Stealth Driver be absorbed sufficiently to be of any use. Always use routine driving as a form of exercise. Pick "targets" at random and test your predictive skills. Find a stretch of road to enhance your forward vision and practise the 12 second rule that you will see described later. Fi­nally, you will need to find somewhere off-road and a set of  old tyres to practice your braking  techniques - even if you take professional guidance in this  area.

Copyright and Disclaimers

This manual aims to show the basics of the most successfully used techniques in the field of security  and surveillance. The manual repre­sents accumulated knowledge of years of training in the field using multiple training techniques. We cannot accept responsibility for the misuse or misapplication of any of the information contained herein, nor accept responsibility for any ac­cidents, injuries or other losses, no matter how caused.


The production of this manual and the associated training material is an accumulation of many years experience in  the Security profession by a a man who will only be known as The protector. This manual has been produced as there is a con­stant and ongoing demand for basic information on the areas covered. This information is required by corporate security operatives, private investigators and even police forces and other security organisations.

While we do our best to cover drivers needs, in this particular area it is clear that some readers will only be capable to carrying out all of the skills required if they complete a course of practical training. There are many po­tential sources of such training - details of which are included in the resources section. The majority of you, how­ever, will have already acquired some of the necessary experience and/or skills to allow you to sensibly adopt the techniques contained herein. It is for this reason that we offer the manual in a self-train format.

Why "Stealth Driving"

The term "Stealth Driving" has been adopted as it best describes the role of security or surveillance personnel when using their vehicle operationally. While the true meaning of "Stealth" has little to do with the technology that we associate the term with, both uses of the term are relevant to the skills we will cover. We shall show you how to become "invisible" to your target and other road users while maintain­ing a high level of control of your personal  safety.

Stealth Driving

Driving in a covert fashion to either maintain security or to remain undetected.

"Stealth Driving" is set to become an important extension to traditional driving skills as the World be­ comes a more complicated place in which to live. Many of the contributors to The Protector’s training are currently engaged in providing these skills to various groups in the troubled countries that formed the former So­viet Union. With widespread crime, lawlessness and general anarchy existing in many places, there is a great need for visiting VIPs and businessmen to protect themselves from the most obvious dangers.

Likewise in the field of Private Investigation, there is an increasing use of Pl's for roles as diverse as monitoring employees activities to preventing Industrial Espionage. This has resulted in many opera­tives being caught through a lack of awareness of how operate "covertly". Much of the blame lies with the media, the art of surveillance is often seen as a world where PI's sit in full view of their targets but are never spotted. The real world is completely different from this fantasy environment and the tech­niques used are less obvious.

This Manual Sets Out to Achieve Three Things:

Firstly - an understanding of the professionals ap­proach to the areas of surveillance and low-profile security driving. Some of this may seem to be out­ side of the scope of what you anticipate needing for your own area of involvement, but I have never heard of anybody being too prepared for a surveillance operation, usually the de-brief is loaded with "If only" and "Next time I would".

Secondly - personal safety is a very important area and one which is often ignored, even by profession­ also, once a pattern of working is established. The feeling of invincibility overcomes logic and soon the person is caught out. This can either relate to their own stupidity while driving or to allowing themselves to be caught or exposed to danger. By making the safety of your driving almost automatic, the additional dangers can be more readily avoided or overcome.

Thirdly - and this is the most interesting part, is that the techniques being offered here are selected for their practical aspects and so can be readily taught to family, friends etc. thus improving their own per­sonal safety. It will be many years before there is a government strong enough to enforce stricter driver training, (simply because drivers are voters and therefore must be  allowed to do as they please), so you can anticipate more danger on the roads before things change for the better. This manual is designed to address that balance.

The Need For Different Driving Skills

While many people consider driving to be nothing more than that more and more are finding that the basic skills taught at novice level are nowhere near enough to cover even the most basic driving job. The addition of theory training has helped matters slightly but the reluctance to match Driver Training and Testing to the needs of modern road conditions has done much to case the "Road Rage" and other problems associated with everyday use of the roads.

Road Rage 

A recently invented term for an age-old problem of reacting to another driver's apparently poor driving habits, often in a violent or dangerous way.

This situation would be bad enough for those who use the roads to travel to and from work, but if you add to this the people who use the roads during their work, you will quickly see that greater skills and a completely different knowledge base is essential in order to operate efficiently. Whether you are operat­ing in a security capacity or carrying out surveillance, your needs should comprise the following:

  • The need to drive safely and not cause an accident.
  • The need to avoid being involved  in other people's accidents.
  • The need to be visible to the majority of road users.
  • The need to be invisible to specific road  users.
  • The need to anticipate the actions of other road users.
  • The need to anticipate the decisions made by your target.
  • The skill to carry out all of the above while concentrating  on other factors such as navigation, communication, finding escape routes, remembering secure observation points etc

You can see that for the average driver, even managing the first two elements is a difficult prospect - otherwise we wouldn't pay so much for" car insurance. Add to this the more complex elements listed and you will see the real problem is one of lack of training. "Pro-Active" skills are not automatic and will re­ quire concentration and effort far above that of the average person currently driving a car on the streets   of the UK, but not beyond achievable  limits.


In driving terms this means the ability to predict the actions of others rather than waiting to see what they do and then react to it. You may find the acquisition of other skills useful to the enhancement of your "Pro-Active" abilities - you should consider driving courses on track driving to improve your awareness of grip and car control,  off-road driving to improve your awareness of balance and stability. If possible some form of skid-control exercises should be tried, whether by skid-pan or the more useful skid-car. These can be used to im­prove your handling abilities in extreme conditions, but also the practice of emergency braking that may one day save your life.

One final point is that in order for you to operate successfully you will need to develop the skill of illu­sion, of appearing to be driving/parking for a purpose other than the surveillance or other mission that  you are engaged in. You will see upon reading the surveillance section just how obvious some people  can be when trying to appear covert. It is not a natural skill to drive in anything other than a normal fash­ion when engaged in these activities, often your instinctive behaviour or other traits will give you away if you do not actively control  them.

Remember, a successful operation is one without unexpected results.

Chapter One :: Choosing a Vehicle

"You can have any colour you like - as long as it's black."
Henry Ford discussing the Model T. 

Before we get into the minefield of choosing the ideal surveillance vehicle, let us concentrate on the rea­sons why we are even thinking of such a decision. To successfully maintain surveillance on somebody, we need to recognise that whether they are simply skiving from work or evading the Child Support Agency, your client needs you to monitor a target who is almost certainly guilty of what your client be­lieves is the problem. This makes him a difficult target from the start, because he is likely to be more wary, more alert to the unusual and in a lot of cases, actually expecting to be caught at some point if he drops his guard.

In the simplest cases, timing is all that is needed to secure the evidence that your client is seeking.   Social Security departments, for example, often make appointments to call on claimants unexpectedly  then stake-out the address some hours earlier, often catching the co-habitee leaving or the claimant hid­ ing the van he uses for work that has been parked outside his house all night. This works because of the state of mind of the individual being monitored. If he doesn't think about the consequences of his ac­tions, he may well be sloppy, if he doesn't consider.the possibility of being watched, you could sit out­  side his house in a car with "Private Investigator At Work" emblazoned along the side and he will as­sume that you're watching his neighbour.

Even if this is your bread and butter employment, there is still the risk of the alert neighbour spotting you and contacting the police having a patrol car interrupt your stake-out is bound to raise your profile to the point where even the most brain-dead target can work out your reason for being outside his house. There are countless other reasons why your work will involve the tailing of targets or the monitoring of premises, whether visually or by electronic surveillance methods. To some degree these could all entail some form of additional driving skills or enhanced awareness being required in order to complete the  task.

What we must concern ourselves with are surveillance operations up to and including areas such as In­dustrial Espionage and Fraud. Matters which require greater precision if you are to avoid being caught while carrying out your work. In many of these cases you will require several operatives or you will need to operate equipment without arousing suspicion. This is why the selection of the correct vehicle for surveillance is necessary and the answers that I am about to give may surprise you.

Working Alone or as a Team?

First we must consider the practical aspects of the job in hand. Some of you may choose to work alone, which can make surveillance operations more difficult. Others have a team of trusted "agents" who join in on surveillance duties to ensure that every aspect of the job can be covered, including prolonged surveillance of an individual target.

Normal Behavior

Often the subject of great debate, we simply mean appearing to fit-in with the area you are working in or the activities of people in that particular street.

Team surveillance operations require more than just a regular car to be effective and undetected. Imag­ine seeing four or five people parked in a street, just sitting in their car nothing could appear more sus­picious. Likewise, an individual driver can also appear to stand out if his actions and activities do not match the "norm" in terms of typical behavior. Remember that neighbourhood watch schemes are very much in evidence these days and should be considered as being unpaid but effective counter­ surveillance teams who will happily screw-up your operation without even realising it.

In my experience, the ideal vehicle for surveillance work is seldom a car, simply because you are too visible inside it and your actions cannot be readily disguised.  If you are working alone, however, you may not have a choice of vehicle, so if you are considering a prolonged period of surveillance, at least try to swap cars with your partner or a friend from time to time to vary the vehicle used. This will at least prevent any pattern of recognition forming in the mind of the target. Hire cars are another possibility but this depends on the rate you are charging for the job, or the agreed expenses.

Team work allows greater flexibility, but demands a more suitable vehicle, which often is narrowed  down to simply a van or an MPV with "blacked-out" windows. The benefit of this is that it can be made to simply disappear  by blending with the surroundings and offering a lower profile than a car. Strange as this sounds, size is not the issue here, but expectations and  perceptions.

I know of at least one PI who chose to carry out his entire surveillance of one company by using an HGV which he parked outside their premises each night. It was fully equipped for him to live-in and the secu­rity guards paid no heed to it as they were only concerned with vehicles entering and leaving the premises. In the road outside, it was common practice for an HGV to park overnight - often several each night - so he simply blended straight in with the background.

The ultimate team situation would allow for a string of vehicles to be used - as often seen in spy movies and police dramas on TV. In the real world, however, this can prove more of a hindrance than you may think and I would suggest that although one or two back-up vehicles are necessary for large scale surveillance operations. the principal of using one vehicle for the team to operate from can often be a sensible one. Whatever your needs and your decision, you will need a "Grey" vehicle in order to reduce your profile to acceptable limits.

Choosing a "Grey" Vehicle

To understand what a "Grey Vehicle" is, we must think of what we are attempting to do in terms of   stealth technology. It is common knowledge now that "Stealth Technology" in the military sense is all to do with avoiding detection by radar and as much as possible visually . This means aircraft, ships, even tanks that will "disappear'' at night, so allowing night operations to be carried out in almost complete safety.

Stealth: a definition secrecy, furtiveness, covert, undercover, clandestine.

Fortunately for us, most targets are not radar equipped, so our "stealth" can be acquired more simply. In the popular media and in particular the world of cinema, the typical surveillance vehicle is the van. This may not come as a surprise to you, but how many of you already use a van for surveillance? Our vanity in wanting a flash motor for impressing clients or to look good outside of our office is often the deciding factor in our choice of vehicle - and these days the practical answer to many of our problems is a multi­ purpose vehicle, or MPV.

MPV's are usually considered to be vehicles like the Renault Espace or the Chrysler Voyager, vehicles with multiple seating and options for carrying other loads. These are fine, but if you were to try surveil­ lance in a typical MPV, the chances are you will  be spotted. Imagine the types of routine work we   are talking about, employee surveillance, the new trend of checking out the local area for a potential house purchaser or even more mundane, issuing summonses or writs. All of these may require you to follow your target until the ideal opportunity to serve the papers or take the photo arrives. In a typical MPV you could be a little too conspicuous, especially if the area you are operating in has very few of them parked at the side of the road.

If you are adamant that the nature of this vehicle means that it is what you choose, then ensure that you disguise it by darkening all but the front side windows and windscreen. At least then you can observe   from the rear of the vehicle in relative safety and when following your target, he does not have as clear an image of you in his mirror as he would like. Try also to opt for a used vehicle, and relatively common. to reduce suspicion. Even consider a halfway vehicle between your dream MPV and my ideal choice,    the van. Many vans are available in minibus format with an "executive" option that simply  offers the  seats and trim from the same manufacturers MPV in a larger body shell. This minibus then forms a bet­ter basis for disguise and blending with it's surroundings - as l shall explain later. 

For serious surveillance work, l would opt for the most invisible vehicle on UK roads, the Ford Transit  van. Think of the number of Transits you see today cruising the streets, carrying tradesmen, builders, deliveries, parcels etc. If you opted for a similar vehicle, it would instantly achieve the required invisible status and prove to be more adaptable than you would imagine. Transit vans provide better views over the traffic you are following, they also offer greater opportunity for spotting the signals given by your  tar­ get vehicle earlier, and in rural areas, allow you to monitor movements over hedgerows while remaining invisible.

In traffic, a van allows you to ride closer to your target vehicle than normal, allowing you to reduce the  risk of losing contact - something which few vehicles will let you do. (I do know of one London based op­eration who only use black cabs as their surveillance vehicles, for similar reasons, but they have draw­ backs - especially if the surveillance  then takes on a static form.)


The ability to control how you are seen by other vehicles and how you can increase the number of vehi­cles/people that can see you in order to reduce the risk of one of them causing you a problem.

In general, the Transit allows you to control your level of conspicuity a feature which is essential in pro­fessional surveillance. As you read on you will realise that not only does it become important to remain invisible to your target, but it may become important to increase your visibility to other road users in or­der to maintain your position in relation to the target vehicle. What makes the Transit eve n more ideal is adaptability. Here is a vehicle which from the outside can look inconspicuous to the casual observer,  es­pecially if the colour chosen is white, but inside can offer an amazing level of options for adaptation into your ideal surveillance vehicle.

For practical purposes, consider a short wheelbase model , 2.0 petrol for this type of work is probably  more suitable, with a side-door as well as rear door or tailgate. Colour is important, white being the obvi­ous choice, but any common colour will suffice. Remember that the vehicle has to blend   into it's surroundings, so look at the most common van colours in your area. White and Red are the  most common nationally because as with cars, they are the easiest colours to sell on. BT Grey is another possibility, but whatever you choose, keep it plain, no stripes.

The vehicle comes with a large fuel tank as standard, which is designed for a long day of deliveries, so it works as a bonus on operations that are of indeterminate length. Likewise the battery is heavy duty and can sustain longer use of electrical equipment when the engine is switched off although personally I prefer to fit a second battery for this role in order to preserve the vehicles starting capability for emer­gencies.

You should consider how it's appearance can be altered if required. Magnetic or self-adhesive signs or logos can be carried to alter the vehicle's appearance if necessary. Taking turns at driving can give the appearance of different vans. There is even an operative who has had the two sides of the vehicle painted different colours, so he can appear to be a different Transit when coming from a different direc­tion. He keeps the front and rear white to blend in traffic and claims that nobody even notices the un­ usual colour scheme. Even his family thought for ages that he had more than one van!

Now for the interior. Most Transits have three seats up front. Replace the bench seat with a second  drivers seat and you have better access to the rear, better adaptability for the two operatives up front as . both seats will then be height adjustable, and more room to carry equipment between the seats - cam­ eras, monitoring equipment etc. The installation of a cool-box or camper fridge behind the seats or un­der the dash provides the necessary repository for refreshments and allows longer continuous  operation of the vehicle.

The "glove-box" of a Transit can accommodate a medium sized briefcase, or again a lot of other equip­ment. You can easily mount a scanner inside, or a video recorder for use with a micro camera mounted on the dash or the rear-view mirror. There are a plethora of after-market options available for customis­ing the cab to suit your personal requirements, from more comfortable seats to air conditioning   units.

The cab also is large enough to allow more personal comfort for long surveillance operations but the real bonus is what you can do behind the cab.

An ideal installation would involve a second row of seats installed, or two bench seats fitted facing one another. This increases your passenger capacity to eight operatives, with room for two to sleep if necessary, although bunks could also be fitted for this purpose. A table offers additional comfort, but also acts as your mobile office, simply by using a laptop with modem and GSM phone. This allows contact with your office, your client, access to databases or other information sources and most importantly allows routine work to be carried out while engage on remote or long operations.

Eventually you may feel the need to operate from your van full-time and so do away with a separate of­fice altogether. Again this is quite common practice, with a mailing address and hourly-rented office space fulfilling the more traditional requirements  of the business. This leaves  you free to conduct  more  of your work "hands-on" while still being able to function in your managerial role. The advent of the "Limo Van" in the USA has meant that more and more manufacturers are producing equipment that can be run from within a van using 12v power and the use of vans as mobile conference rooms is becoming a most cost effective method of conducting business across the USA.

In the UK, where we are more reserved about such things, there is resistance to any form of widespread adoption of Teleworking and in particular the idea of not having an office to call your own. We need to think more openly about this as office space is becoming more expensive and the necessity diminishes. Think carefully about how you could combine your routine business needs with your surveillance re­quirements. How you could offer a service to your clients which is both discrete and instant. In a busi­ness such as Private Investigation where time is literally money and clients often cannot afford to wait to resolve their problem, the flexibility of traveling equipped for any task is becoming more and more ap­pealing.

Additional equipment?

Other useful options include the installation of navigation equipment such as the models fitted to luxury cars. These can also operate in unison with a laptop and provide a record of journeys and locations for your clients. There is even scope for the vehicles movements to be sent directly to your office to keep them automatically appraised of your whereabouts without the need for voice  communications.

One thing that I haven't mentioned so far is weapons, for personal protection. This again is a matter of personal choice and while I do not condone the use of weapons in most circumstances, It is obvious that there are a myriad of hiding places for practical self-protection devices around a typical van. If you are licensed to carry weapons or require the means to protect yourself from a potential threat, you will ap­preciate the flexibility that this has to  offer.

With imagination, you can see that other options exist, storage space for clothing, a water container , even a toilet facility can be incorporated into the van. More importantly there is room-for other aids to successful surveillance. Consider the following scenario to see what I mean and then extrapolate your own ideas for your personal needs.

Imagine you are tailing your client, he takes a taxi, then is dropped off at a shopping precinct. You let out one of your operatives to follow him, then he gets another cab and suddenly he disappears. Well, what if the operative you discharged from the van took with him, for example, a mountain bike. He wouldn't look out of place in a shopping precinct, and could have any number of reasons to stop and check a tyre, or fiddle with something else on the bike. Then when he sees the target take the cab, he mounts the bike and gives chase. Invisibility can be maintained, he can make radio contact and give you a direction to follow, then in normal traffic can follow the target until you can catch him and bring him back on board.

That's just one possible scenario. In the USA I have seen vans equipped for up to eight operatives and containing everything from skateboards to surfboards to act as cover for operatives. Clothing can be changed and a team of six can be given the flexibility to work as a team of eighteen. For regular work of this nature, you may want to opt for a long-wheelbase version of your chosen van, but for now lets con­centrate on the most popular aspects of the business.

Unless you are engaged in the more extreme areas of surveillance, you are likely to be monitoring the movements and activities of ordinary people carrying out their ordinary lives. This simplifies matters in that you can adapt more easily to operating from a van where all you need to do is maintain a static  watch on a target or track and record the movements of certain individuals. Only when you land more extensive work on a corporate level would you need to consider further investment in equipment and accessories.

Generally, extra seating, storage, a couple of bikes, plus your surveillance equipment is all you will need to carry. Remember to make it all appear quite normal though. As with any vehicle, routine police checks can occur and if the van looks like the lair of a bunch of mountain bikers it attracts less attention than if it appears like something out of Mission Impossible! Also ensure that the equipment is well se­ cured. Remember that the van has to be made mobile at a moments notice - so be prepared to dump food etc. into a handy bin.

One final point worth mentioning in the area of equipment is the extra tools and emergency equipment that should be carried. A simple list would be something like this:

  • Trolley Jack and professional wheel-brace (for faster wheel  changes)
  • Spare bulbs, fuses, and traditional breakdown  equipment
  • Fire extinguishers specifically for electrical  fires
  • Snow shovel - useful for mud and other  uses
  • Basic tools plus a decent hammer (for instant panel re-shaping)
  • Torches and other emergency lighting
  • A good breakdown recovery service in case a fault means you need to abandon the vehicle while

Obviously I could expand this list indefinitely, but you get the general idea. If you are working in a poten­tially hostile environment and feel that the threat of  vehicle tampering exists, you may wish to consider the addition of more sophisticated equipment such as Goodyear EMT (Extended Mobility Tyres) which enable you to drive at normal road speeds after suffering a  puncture.

Sensible additional precautions would also include:

  • Bonnet locks to prevent tampering.
  • Carry a spare distributor cap, leads and rotor arm as the removal of these is the most common method of vehicle disabling.
  • Consider the fitment of "bullet-proof' glass to prevent unauthorised entry to the  vehicle.
  • Replace the traditional locks with more unusual types that will either prevent or at least seriously de­ lay any attempt at forced entry.
  • Modifying the exhaust so that the visible tailpipe is not the functional one, thus preventing the classic potato in the tailpipe method of  vehicle disabling.

You must make a personal choice as to the level of expenditure and the degree of effort you put into the preparation of the vehicle. Most people tend to look at a basic equipment level and then develop and expand it as they develop their business - this is what I would recommend. There is little point in invest­ ing too much on the off-chance of being offered a high profile, high risk contract when the bulk of your work is of the more mundane variety.

If you have a large budget, there's one other option:

Purpose Built Surveillance Vehicles

A natural extension of the last section would be the decision to produce a vehicle that is designed to be used either solely for your business or as a dual purpose vehicle. The equipment options mentioned can, with the exception of the surveillance equipment, be used for personal or family use. There are sev­eral choices available, both in cars and vans, but as we are dealing specifically with surveillance, let us consider the basic Transit Van.

A van provides the ideal base - for the reasons discussed before , but if you feel that a minibus would be preferable, then with blacked out windows it serves the same purpose  but is less "stealthy".

Another option is to begin with a van but to include a large "picture window" in the side as with US built leisure vehicles. This would make the vehicle less stealthy from the side, but from almost every other angle it would look like a van. The bonus is that the view from inside is enhanced and it allows you to park in a less conspicuous position and still have the required view of the target.

Another idea is to provide a sign that covers the window when not required for observation. This would require some care to appear convincing, but is well within the capabilities of sign-makers. For practical purposes, the more the vehicle looks like a "standard " Transit from the outside, the better it will serve as a professional surveillance vehicle.

After choosing your make and model of vehicle, consider the finer points such as the various body types and sizes, differences in engine types and sizes, the final decision is yours, of course, but consider the following points:

Long wheelbase vans can carry more, but are less manoeuvrable, more difficult to park on urban streets and may be unable to follow into car parks and other restricted areas. (High roofed vehicles definitely could not)

Short wheelbase vehicles may not be able to carry all that you want, may have less flexibility than   you would like and may limit the size of your surveillance team - causing you to need other vehicles. Always try to consider the amount of space required before committing to a Vehicle.

Petrol-engined versions should be OK for the minimal loads you will carry but will be thirsty. Perfor­mance is also less than that of a car with a similar engine size, so opting for the larger choice is a sensible choice. Turbo diesels, however, while powerful and practical, are noisier and can be more sluggish when climbing hills or in other situations.

Consideration should also be given to the mechanical attributes. Having the engine tuned for greater speed or acceleration is possible. Generally, however, the Transit 2.0 or 2 . 5Td is sufficiently powerful for all but the most extreme requirements. Other vans have similar choices of engine and the same rules apply. Transplants are also feasible, but in order to maintain reliability, changing engines should only be carried out after consulting a specialist.

As the vehicle is not going to be carrying vast loads, look into the options for shock-absorbers, tyres, brake enhancements etc. Many of the items that would make the vehicle more useful to your specific needs are available off the shelf. In fact, there are specialist tuners, suppliers and a wealth of after­  market options for the UK's most popular van, all you have to do is search them out. Avoid the obvious mistakes - No alloy wheels! No noisy exhaust systems! No wide wheels with low-profile rubber! Instead, choose a sensible range of improvements rather than trying to produce a race or rally prepared vehicle.

In addition to this, there are also internal considerations that require attention such as security. If you are going to equip a vehicle with a comprehensive suite of surveillance equipment, then you will need en­hanced security to ensure that while absent from the vehicle, you are not ripped off by some casual thief. As well as a comprehensive pager alarm and immobilisers, you should also consider armouring the lock-plates and in fact replacing the standard locks with something mo re substantial. Consult a pro­fessional security consultant for the best advice on what is and isn't possible on your chosen  vehicle.

You can also alter the internal appearance and practicality of the vehicle with commercially available extras. Sound-proofing kits are a good idea, as they can work both ways and prevent passing pedestri­ans from hearing too much. Also look at  options for camper vehicles and other conversions - almost all   of what you will need is already being produced by small manufacturers somewhere. A few days of good research will unearth a wealth of useful sources. Many of these suppliers are also open to building equipment to order, with no questions asked  s  they assume that you are converting a van into a  camper!

Once the vehicle is converted, equipped, secured and ready for operations, you should then ensure that your finished vehicle is still MOT worthy, covered by your insurance - (many companies would cringe at converted vehicles) - and as a final point, fully serviced by a reliable mechanic. So often the desire to build the perfect vehicle is marred by the general ignorance of the basic mechanical condition of the original donor vehicle. You must consider this a high priority and ensure that your modifications and im­provements do not compromise the ability to access the maintenance points of the vehicle.

Strict adherence to the higher maintenance required by vans should be meticulously carried out, how­ ever, as you do not want to compromise a major contract for the want of an oil change. Vans have a   good record of reliability, especially in the start-stop driving that may well occur when on surveillance. In addition, they have heavier duty systems and can withstand more abuse than a typical car. In general, Vans offer a practical advantage over cars for almost every aspect of the surveillance  business and this. is why they have been the principal choice of government departments and other bodies for 30  years.

So far I've only discussed Transits, but naturally you can adapt these ideas to other makes and types of vehicle. Just remember that the possibility of being spotted increases as the commonality of the chosen vehicle decreases. If you want to use a purple coloured US built Chevy van, then that's your choice of course, but don't be surprised if you are spotted on your very first job. Only you will know exactly what  you want to use the vehicle for and to what degree you can afford to personalise to suit your individual tastes or off-duty requirements. We have discussed modifications for vans as they are the most practi­cal, but even a typical MPV could be adapted to include some of the options - although there is a trade­ off between carrying people and equipment that requires more careful  consideration.

Chapter 1 Checklist

  • Always choose the vehicle you need rather than the one you think suits your image. Re­ member that  for surveillance,  a van is the optimum choice - and the most  adaptable.
  • Choose a vehicle that is both commonly used and regular in appearance - nothing flashy. A Ford Transit is a typical  example , but not the only choice available to you.
  • Equip your vehicle for the range of work you wish to be able to offer - including additional seats for extra operatives and equipment racks for bikes etc.
  • Ensure that the external appearance is normal wherever possible and that any alterations made are discreet. One-way film on any side or rear windows for  example.
  • Internally, you should install soundproofing and panelling to provide a quiet and safe work­ ing environment. The choice of different seating for enhanced comfort is also recommended.
  • Equip your vehicle with communications and navigation equipment , especially if you are likely to be operating outside of your norm al area or over a large part of the country.
  • Utilise the additional seating and other options to provide a mobile office or centre of opera­tions for yourself. Consider running your entire business  from the van on a daily  basis.
  • Enhance the security of your vehicles with protected or replacement locks, immobilisers and page-alarm. Even consider in-van cameras to monitor unwanted.   intruders.
  • If necessary, consider more extreme options such as run-flat tyres or bullet-proof glass to in­ crease personal protection.  
  • Finally, do not neglect the obvious areas of routine maintenance, the MOT approval of the vehicle and especially adequate insurance cover for the finished vehicle plus any perma­nently installed equipment.


Chapter Two :: Basic Driving Skills

Attitude is  contagious - is yours worth catching ? 

Professional Driving skills are only achievable if you adopt a Professional Attitude to your driving. In or­der to achieve the required attitude, it may be necessary to provide yourself with an incentive and a rea­son for changing what you already thinks is acceptable in today's driving climate. Much of what needs to be achieved here is going to depend on the attitude of the other driver as well - and equally on what has been taught when you and the other driver were  novices.

Remembering the Basics of Driving

Let's take a step back at this point and think about how our driving skills were originally taught and how they develop, or not, over the years. Most people have vivid memories of learning to drive or of the test itself. I'm sure that you all remember being told-off for crossing your hands and for failing to give a sig­nal - even when you were the only car on the road!

As a novice driver, many of the risks that existed were not always obvious to you, your awareness was yet to be developed. This should have been the priority of your instructor, but more often than not, the priority was learning the routines of the test itself, without always being given a full understanding of the reasons for doing so. The lessons would consist of learn ing specific skills that cover the various ele­ments of the Driving Test and in fact would often take place in areas known to be test routes. The first time that some drivers eve r saw a dual carriageway was after they passed their test.

At the end of this period of tuition, usually conducted in as few lessons as possible, in order to impress your friends, the test was taken and usually passed without much difficulty. Then, as if by magic, you were a qualified driver - with the same standing as other road users, despite the lack of experience.  I’m sure that the only emergency braking that you have carried out since then was for real, which means  that it is likely that it took place at 25mph on a good road surface, slightly uphill and with plenty of warn­ ing that you were about to do it.

What does not exist, at least not yet, is a compulsory dual-carriageway section, or motorway, or any­ thing at all concerning modern technology, sµch as ABS. In fact the rest is much the same as the test you took, without the hand signals which are now ignored on practical grounds. (In fact in some cities, there is even dispensation granted that allows the emergency stop to be skipped if the traffic density is too great!)

What exactly have you retained from the lessons needed for the test? Well, the mechanical skills   needed to move the car - (except that many drivers  still don't  understand why they have so many gears). When you have "Right of Way" and when to "Give Way" . Possibly a fair amount of Highway Code, especially if you had to take the new theory test, and perhaps the prescribed method for carrying out certain manoeuvres.

I am sure that you also remember the routines for observation using mirrors - although many drivers still do not understand what they are looking for! The classic example is that when novices are being trained  to turn right from a major road into a minor road, they are told to check both their interior and door mir­rors before moving out into the centre of the road, and to stop with their wheels straight, pointing along  the centre of the road - in case their foot slips off of the clutch. This avoids the car lurching into oncom­ing traffic, or rather that is what  you are supposed to tell novice  drivers.

In the real world, the most likely event is a rear-end shunt - the most common car accident in the UK.  It is this which would push you into oncoming traffic. Apparently telling a novice driver that this may hap­ pen is considered to be too scary, so instructors are told to avoid it - or in some cases are only told the first version themselves, hence the poor quality of information given to novice drivers. If you relate this to surveillance driving, you can perhaps appreciate that by having to make decisions based on   other

people's journeys, you are likely to put yourself at risk of being involved in a shunt when the driver be­ hind is unable to anticipate  your next change of speed or direction.

It is only when you can understand these risks that you will see the need for the more extreme control techniques that I shall cover in the next chapter.

Another point that is remembered is the need to control speed in urban areas, although very few drivers religiously use speed correctly - especially when to do so would incur the wrath of the drivers following them, provoking "Road Rage". The most recent figures indicate that 70% of all drivers break the 30mph limit, which puts pressure on the remaining 30% to comply or suffer the abuse that follows. I'm sure the true figure is actually more than that if you consider the drivers who lied when answering the survey questions and those who literally aren't aware of breaking the limit.

Not surprisingly 57% of drivers also admit to breaking the 70mph limit and 19% claim that they regularly exceed 80mph, and not always on Motorways. As for company car drivers, the latest Lex report shows that 50% of company drivers think that breaking speed limits is "acceptable" and one in five think that they should be allowed to set their own limits according to conditions! This sounds a ridiculous idea in theory and would be quite impossible to put into practice as every driver would have there own judge­ment of what is safe - pretty much as they do already , hence the continuing problem of pedestrian fatalities and the increased use of controlled crossings.

This is the area that is directly in conflict with the design of modern vehicles and the artificial sense of safety that drivers feel when travelling at speed. As a professional driver, you will need to control the   urge to use speed just because it is available to you - especially on surveillance operations. It is better to consider blending with other traffic and then controlling their speed where it is considered necessary  for your personal safety or for the benefit of the  operation.

Safe Driving Culture

Utilising the correct attitude to safe driving and correct Business Ethics when driving.

Back in the real world we need to look at how to promote a "Safe Driving Culture" for yourself or your business, while allowing you to operate successfully. If this proves to be impossible for any of your oper­atives, then it is usually the demands on the driver that are to blame - for which you will need to arrange appropriate training in the area of weakness. There is little point offering to carry out any surveillance  if  the stress that it causes leads to problems in either your personal safety or the correct conduct of your business.

The correct Business Ethic to adopt is one of always wanting to conduct your business without causing any unnecessary risk to third parties or to your own staff - including yourself of course. If you find your­ self unable to operate effectively without taking high risks to do so you may as well consider a career change - professional operators are considered to be the best planners , they take only controlled risks to achieve their objective and they do not risk themselves  or their other team members no matter what  the significance of the operation.

It is all too easy these days to hide behind a shield of data which proclaims that your choice of vehicle alone is going to protect you from the more severe risks in accident scenarios- but what about avoiding the accidents? Surely the best insurance that you can have as a driver is the knowledge that you are do­ ing as much as you reasonably can to prevent accidents from occurring - rather than simply accepting them and trusting to technology to keep yourself and your passengers alive!

I have always been amazed when speaking to drivers who have just written-off their pride and joy in the back of another vehicle, especially  when they describe how they braked - but "the ABS didn't work so I hit the other car''. Often the ABS worked fine, but somehow the drivers thought that the car steered itself away from danger! Another common misconception  is when the ABS operates, often in a violent way, drivers think that there is something wrong with the vehicle, let go of the brake pedal, and hit whatever they were pointing at!

In all of these cases, there is scope for developing the correct attitude to your driving - even if until now you hadn't given it much thought. If your work depends on you being able to guarantee being able to fol­low a target, or provide secure transport for a client, then you must first be able to protect yourself from  the risks that other drivers are simply unaware of. You must control the space surrounding your vehicle as if it was a bubble which may be squeezed on occasions, but which must never be allowed to burst.

How Attitude Can Alter Your Driving


In driving terms this means the ability to predict the actions of others rather than waiting to see what they do and then react to it .

Overall the skills taught in these your weeks of driving were quite simply re-active and not the pro-active awareness skills needed for driving in the real world. It is still up to the individual to try to find the addi­tional experience from somewhere - very few ADl's are asked for further lessons after the test has been passed, for reasons of finance and because there is no legal requirement to do so.


Literally the opposite to a pro-active driver, the re-active driver always waits for the other driver to do something  before deciding what to do next.

The reason that pro-active awareness is missed out in early driver training however is quite simple. If it isn't in the test, then it doesn't need to be taught! This is not simply the ADl's fault, but also the obvious reaction to publishing the test syllabus and not promoting strongly enough the full range of skills re­quired for driving. Pupils, or more often the parents who are paying for the lessons, are far too wary to pay {or additional motorway training or other additional lessons, preferring instead to impart their own particular skills in these areas to their trusting offspring.


Official term for a Dept  of Transport  Approved Driving Instructor.

What has this all to do with Attitude, well after learning the basic mechanical skills, followed by a period of developing your awareness of the hazards of the road, you eventually learn to express your personal­ ity through your driving - this is the Attitude that we are talking about. Initially, this is the area that you need to be honest with yourself about.

If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then your own attitude needs to be assessed in more detail:-

  1. Do you ever use your horn or gesture at other drivers?
  2. Have you ever aggressively defended your space on the road and prevented another vehicle from cutting ahead of you?
  3. Do you find driving these days is less enjoyable?
  4. Do you ever travel over the speed limit in urban  areas?
  5. Do you ever drive too close to other  vehicles?
  6. Have you ever been involved  in a rear-end shunt?

Now before you lose your temper and skip the rest of this chapter, let me explain why often it is your at­titude which can cause you the problem and not the actions of  others.

If you answered yes to question (1.), then you are doubtless seen as quite "normal" in terms of drivers in the UK - but it doesn't mean you are right. Drivers mistake the horn as being some form of defence mechanism, a means of expressing anger or contempt for other drivers - but the same drivers seldom use their horn to prevent the problem from occurring.

If you consider that the correct  purpose  for the horn is - "to warn other road users of your presence"- then perhaps we should adopt the European approach of defensive use of the horn and not aggressive application after the problem has occurred.

Have you ever been overtaken by a vehicle and heard him toot his horn before doing so? The chances  are you have, and you looked to see why he was tooting at you, but you probably didn't notice his na­tionality. Most European countries teach the use of horn for safety when overtaking - to ensure the other driver is aware of your  presence.

In the UK we consider it to be bad manners, or we are too embarrassed to use the horn for such as "trivial" point as protecting our lives when overtaking. Try it, especially when forced to overtake vans or other large vehicles on narrow roads - you'll be amazed at the  difference.

Likewise, instead of wondering whether that vehicle ahead is about to emerge in front of you, toot your horn and grab his attention - he may never have seen you. Of course on the continent of Europe you would flash your headlights for this hazard - but here it would add to the problem and not reduce the  risk. Headlight flashing is now a national obsession and each year accounts for thousands of accidents and near misses, both in the UK with visiting drivers and in Europe when we travel abroad and expect everyone to know what we mean.

Question (2.) is more of a personal problem, the defence of personal space to prevent the intrusion of other ('.!rivers. Again our reasoning is flawed, as to reduce space ahead of us to prevent others gaining access to it only increases the risk to ourselves. It is necessary to try to control this urge and to remind yourself that just because another driver takes the space ahead of you, you aren't being pushed back-. wards in the queue - merely reducing speed for a fraction of a second to allow him into the space. There is little point trying to prevent this driver from completing his manoeuvre once you have allowed him to commence it. In the next chapter, t he correct control techniques will be discussed to prevent this situa­tion from occurring in the first place.

Now we come to a very emotive issue. If you said yes to Question (3.) then you are simply reflecting the feeling of the nation as a whole . Driving used to be fun but now there are too many people trying to do it all at once. Now we are controlled by cameras & speed bumps vehicles are being banned from city cen­tres. In actual fact this is predominantly an urban problem. Rural driving anywhere except around Lon­ don is still enjoyable - ask any of the  Motor ing journalists who frequent the Scottish Highlands or the Lake District to conduct their road  tests.

What is missing is a sense of achievement. We can no longer take pride in travelling from A to B swiftly and efficiently as it is not in our control anymore. We need instead to try to set other goals. Minimise the number of times we are forced to stop. Learn to anticipate hazards earlier and take control of the situa­tion before it controls you. It is because of this problem that almost all of you answered yes to Question (4.). The speed limit in urban areas is set for a reason , which has nothing to do with your personal need  to make a meeting on time. Only your attitude can prevent you from killing a pedestrian.

Questions (5.) and (6.) are similarly linked, in that many of you would have answered no to QS. Without really understanding what too close actually meant , but on Q6. A large proportion of you would have had to answer yes - followed by "but it wasn't my fault". This is the attitude problem that we need to conquer   to our own satisfaction before we consider improving our driving skills and using them for our business.

If you follow another vehicle at a "safe" distance, i.e. that which is prescribed by the Highway Code, and you do nothing more to prevent the risk of a shunt, then chances are you are driving too close most of  the time. You have to consider other  variables:-


Anti Blockiersystem. Originally a German invention and used for years in aircraft, the term is a Bosch registered trademark for an Anti Lock Braking System to help prevent skidding under    braking.

  • If the driver behind you is too close, when you stop safely, he won't!
  • If the driver ahead of you has ABS and the road is dry, he may stop much sooner than   you can.
  • If the driver behind you has ABS and the road is wet, he may well take longer to stop than   you.
  • If you have ABS and the other drivers do not, then you may stop quicker than the driver behind you or slower than the one ahead of you - and without practice, avoiding either is almost impossible.

Fuzzy Logic

The science of understanding that the universe is not all black and white but rather more complex.    That is only one consideration, but really illustrates that in this world of Fuzzy Logic where there is never a definitive answer, we need to adopt a more flexible approach to the methods we use to protect ourselves.

It is one thing to cause a shunt by driving into another vehicle and quite another to be hit while you are already stationary. Many drivers still think that the latter is blameless on their part whereas the first sce­nario is "always the fault of the driver that hit the vehicle he was following". If you talk to any Insurance Investigator, you will find that this is not the case. Much more is made of the type of vehicles, the age of the drivers, the road conditions etc. etc, although these are precisely the areas that the drivers them­ selves were obviously not considering prior to the accident.

Excuses like "I had to turn right, so I stopped to wait for a gap in the traffic and the guy behind me drove into me" are just not acceptable if the alternative was to drive on and not have the accident! These days we are too wrapped up in who is to "blame" for the accident, who had "right of way" and whether or not one party was "signalling their intention" when the accident occurred. What is more relevant, surely, is  why the drivers did nothing to prevent the accident occurring, why one vehicle thought he could stop, because he "had to turn right" when the car behind him had no idea he was going to do so.

We need to discuss these matters in more detail, which is why after you have taken to time to consider some of these points, then perhaps taken yourself out for a drive to try to assess your own attitude traits we can move on to the next chapter and look at some of the areas of driving skills that you would only learn if you either paid for advanced tuition or received it as part of a corporate training policy in a previ­ous employment situation.

Chapter 2 - Checklist

  • It is imperative that before you begin adopting advanced driving skills, you consider what you have been taught previously and how it  relates to modern driving.
  • Ensure that the your Safety Culture begins in the Car Park and ends when you are safely in­ doors at the end of the day. There is no point driving safely on business, then having an ac­cident on the way home - or when driving with the  family.
  • Try to channel the competitive nature of your driving into the more useful area of trying to be safer than the other driver. In professional driving, there is little room for ego and aggres­sion.
  • Try to ensure that your staff do not feel compelled to treat their daily driving as some kind of competition that they must win in order to stay ahead of their colleagues.Look for ways to reduce stress among your staff - such as allowing the opportunity to work remotely or insisting on using other forms of transport for long journeys - they will appreciate it and you will benefit in terms of their productivity and health.
  • If you are considering a Business Ethics policy, try to incorporate your Stealth Driving into it  as it is an important area in terms of taking responsibility for your staff, their safety and their behaviour - many companies are considering doing  this.
  • Ensure that you are not being taken in by the amount of advertising hype that centres  around the safety of the car you drive. Remember that this is predominantly passive safety or involves re-active measures. The only pro-active measure in the avoidance of accidents is the ability and attitude of the  driver.
  • Remember the importance of being able to complete your assignment safely. Your business could be adversely affected by any lapse in attitude which leads to a time consuming and costly accident.
  • Finally - and this is the most important thing to consider when looking at your personal driving skills It is better not to have an accident than to allow yourself to become in­volved in one that simply isn't your fault. Blame is the least important element compared with your personal safety and that of  your staff and clients.

Chapter Three :: Advanced  Driving Techniques

"Never rely on other road users to do the correct thing!”
(Extract  from the DSA Driving  Manual) 

Risk Awareness & Avoidance

While you may feel that as a driver, you do not take excessive risks yourself , it should be obvious that the biggest risks come from other road users or from the road itself. Risk assessment and evaluation is not taught as a subject, the only area of risk that is covered relies on understanding such principals as "Right of Way" and "Priority" - both of which are fairly vague legal terms.

To understand Risk, we have to first accept the basic principal that when driving our vehicle , we can never remove all risks - merely .reduce them to what we would consider to be "acceptable". This is a dif­ficult concept to grasp at first as we often consider that we have driven carefully and taken every pre­ caution possible during a particular journey. The fact that we arrived safely however, is more to do with statistical possibility than simply our own ability.

We love to share stories of the most unlikely happenings - in other words areas of extremely low risk that nevertheless actually took place. Here are some  examples:-

  • A lone golfer, who hit an unfortunately wild shot on a course in Africa, brought down the entire air­ force of a neighbouring country. All four aircraft were flying in close formation when the ball shattered the canopy of the lead aircraft, and killed the pilot - this caused the aircraft to go out of control and so collide with the other three. The odds against this are astronomical - but it  happened!
  • A woman driving down 5th avenue in New York back in 1992 suddenly heard a loud crash and felt something hit the rear of her car. Upon examination she found that a meteorite had gone straight through her boot and buried itself in the road. Not only was this the last thing that she expected, but she was very lucky that it was only her boot that it went  through!
  • A man sitting in stationary traffic in the middle of Paris back in 1995 was quietly picking his nose, when suddenly he was rear-ended by a late-braker and unfortunately his finger was pushed up into his brain and killed him. He wasn't discovered for another couple of hours as the traffic simply drove round him and the person who caused the accident left the scene without checking on the other driver .
  • Finally, there is the famous story of the van driver who was driving past the RAF base at Northolt when his van was broad-sided by a Learjet crossing the road having overshot the runway. He cer­tainly wasn't expecting it but as this was the 33rd such incident since 1960, perhaps he needed to un­derstand the aircraft warning sign a little  better.

Let us start with that last example of an extreme risk, that of being hit by an aircraft - 1:50,000,000 sounds like fairly low odds and we probably wouldn't worry about it. However the same odds apply to winning the National Lottery and millions of people work themselves up about this every week. This shows that the perception of statistics is that if they are about something beneficial we feel that they are shorter than if they are about something  dangerous.

We consider being diagnosed with Leukaemia as being extremely serious to us as individuals - and yet we consider ourselves to not be taking excessive risk if we are a low mileage company car driver or simply a road user. Yet the statistics show the fact that the risks are much higher in both categories - and unlike Leukaemia, is more easily reduced.

So what about those of us who drive considerably more than the 25,000 miles mentioned - well naturally as the mileage increases, so does the risk - but it is the proportion that is interesting. Between 25,000 and 50,000 miles the risk is double, but add a further 10,000 miles and the risk multiplies by a factor of five. This clearly illustrates the limit of human ability in terms of high mileage driving - and this is without the added risk of driving which working as in the case of a Pl or security operative , or the use of radios or mobile phones while driving. Consequently this additional risk must be estimated and considered care­ fully when trying to assess your position in the overall chart.

What is interesting in these last figures is that the risk to the typical Company Car driver are identical to those of the average coal-face worker or somebody who contracts the Flu but has no form of medical assistance. The comparison is that while most of us would never consider working on a coal-face as  we understand the possibilities for death or injury, we do not mind driving high mileages for our employer and would not even consider Flu as more than a minor inconvenience. This is a clear example of how identical risks can affect different people in wildly differing ways.

Risk is something that is seen as essential in life. Understanding it may also be the most difficult thing to comprehend. If you can establish an early understanding of this most critical area then there's no prob­lem. In reality, the easiest way to approach the subject is simply to look at why it exists in the first place.   A risk is very easy to define, the dictionary definition is:

The possibility of meeting danger or suffering harm Vs  Exposure to the chance of injury or  loss.

The table on Risk of Death is an excellent example - I have never seen anybody not be amazed at how their view of Risk varied from the reality shown in the chart. There are those who will say that because they smoke 30 cigarettes a day, the added risk of driving 25,000 miles is hardly worth worrying about. Others will point out that they have never had an accident in 30 years, or that they are better than the average driver. Simply pointing out that it's not only they who can cause the accident, but any drivers hat they meet on any day is a sobering point. Reminding them that while they may not have had an ac­cident in 30 years, do they know for sure that they have never been the cause of one? Or ask how many near-misses they have had and point out that that it is only a matter of time before one of these is not a near-miss .

This resistance is common because these statistics bring home a reality that we would rather not face. However, it can be overcome if approached as part of a larger picture such as a corporate decision to beat the normal odds or it is seen as a challenge to prove that your staff can better the average. Most companies only employ "above average" people and so the provision of skill-based training to provide "above-average" safety is common sense. However you choose to impart this information to your opera­tives, you need to fully understand the true nature of the problem yourself, so gathering and reading as much information on these areas as possible is not only sensible but can be essential.

People who take risk in their lives as part of their daily activities tend to find that this satisfies their   "need" and so are generally more placid and calm in all other aspects of life. Bungee jumpers tend to be laid back individuals at other times, as do surfers, skiers, professional pilots or scuba divers. They sel­dom see the need to drive fast or own a flash vehicle , they tend not to drink heavily or smoke, and cer­tainly not while driving. This phenomenon is puzzling dozens of scientists who make it their job to study and understand risk taking. The truth is that we do so to compensate for our otherwise mundane exis­tence and need to replace the hunting or combative elements of life that we no longer are involved  in.

The modern "combat" takes place in traffic and the "hunting" element comes when we are carved-up by another motorist or feel aggrieved that they are not driving in the same way that we are.

It is unfortunate that I have no publicly produced material that can more clearly show the risk to you as an operative, which is not to say that such information is not available, but is actually classified in the only format that I have seen it. What you can do is assume that you are well into the high risk category as an "average" individual, which is why this manual is designed to impart information to you that can make you an above average operative. Only by doing this can you be satisfied that you are not taking on an addition to your other Pl activities that is above and beyond what you envisaged the job being:

I think that after studying the full chart and allowing yourself a true picture of the risks you are taking in your work, you will realise the need for the enhanced training that this manual provides and you may  even wish to add to this by taking further training in a practical form. Whatever effect it has on you, it is doubtful that you could study these figures and not be surprised by the number and variety of categories that you may well fit in to. Having completed this, we must now consider the best way of reducing the  risk to an acceptable minimum. The first part of this involves improving our powers of   prediction.

Predictive Skills


In driving terms this means the ability to predict the actions of others rather than waiting to see what they do and then react to it.

Driver efficiency, now there's an emotive term. To most drivers that would mean how quickly a journey could be accomplished or how many calls could be achieved in a day. This is not the principal concern  of a security operative or Pl. Whatever the problems in your own particular field, improving driver effi­ciency basically hinges about one point - increased pro-activity. A pro-active driver is one who is aware of increased danger and ensures that when the accident occurs, he is somewhere else. He is able to perceive increased risk in situations before he enters them.

How he can achieve this is sometimes quite difficult to explain during road training, unless the driver himself has the desire not to get involved in the accident. This simply means that he understands what the risk is, where the risk is and how it would affect him if he were to get involved. If that sounds crazy, then perhaps we should take a step back and look at this problem objectively.

A  modern car driver has an extremely high level of comfort and a plethora of equipment to make his day more pleasurable. His vehicle is capable of much more than motorway speeds, in relative quiet and comfort, handles better than would ever be necessary in normal driving and can out-brake most vehicles on the road. He uses this vehicle for business, for pleasure, often for long holiday journeys as well as  trips to the newsagent on a Sunday morning. Many vehicles are also equipped as an extension of your lounge, or office, with leather "armchairs", CD players, phones and even faxes and in-car computers.

So why is that a problem? Well let's look at it from the drivers view first. He feels safe, is detached from the actual sensations of driving by his power-steering and modern suspension, feels capable of doing more than he should attempt in terms of speed and handling and so begins to drive in a style that ac­commodates that feeling. He also feels that driv ing is not occupying as much of his concentration or ef­ fort  as it  once did and so he is tempted to do other things while driving. Most often he is using the phone, but there are cases of drivers reading notes and dictating letters while driving at speed on motor­ ways.


A behavioral term for the sensory feedback felt by the body from external sources. In the case of driving a car, it means the feedback you receive from a steering wheel and by the way the car  handles

The truth is that most drivers suffer from Kinaesthesia - and I use the term "suffer" wisely, because it is the loss of feedback from the car that has caused some of the worst accidents in recent times. Why would anyone willingly drive into fog at 80mph, unless they "felt" safe and had the confidence of their   cars ability to handle whatever happened next. They obviously confuse the cars ability with their own  and it is the driver who becomes the weak link in the chain that causes the accident.. Before we can consider driving under stress on a security or surveillance mission, we need to address this problem  first. Most importantly, we must never allow ourselves to think that we can do things that we consider dangerous when carried out by others.

So why is it that are so poor at predicting the actions of other drivers? It all stems from our initial train ­ ing, where we were deliberately taught to drive to a system and not to think for ourselves. Once the sys­tem was taught, we began to expect that everyone else drove by the same system - despite the fact that even we did not maintain this degree of precision or rigidity in our driving once we had passed the test. This has caused us to expect other drivers to always signal, to always warn us of their actions - whereas the more a driver uses a particular route, the less he will bother to signal or consider other road users.

For  a good example of this, consider the driver who joins your road from a side road on the left. What   do you anticipate he will do next? If you said turn right, congratulations. You have already discovered  one of the best kept secrets in driving. Drivers who join your road are not making the same journey as you, will not remain on your road, and will more often leave the road in the opposite direction to the way that they joined than any other option.

This is not some mysterious force in action, simply logic - more precisely "Fuzzy Logic". Under the rules of Fuzzy Logic, for every vehicle that joins your road and travels to your own destination , there are as many other possibilities as there are roads, entrances and other features on that road. However , as drivers inevitably drive from A to B for a reason, the reason is either on your road, or more likely on the opposite side of the road to the side that they joined - hence the most likely outcome as described  above.

On a practical level, this allows you to anticipate their next move and not over-react when they suddenly brake or move out to turn. From a security level, it means that you can back off early and maintain your options, from a surveillance driver's point of view, it allows you to anticipate the need to give the vehicle time to turn and to expect to be held-up. This in turn allows you to look ahead early and watch your tar­ get until the vehicle in front of you carries out his next move. The less surprises that we are faced with daily, the safer and easier our task becomes.

Another example is that of following a driver into a 30 limit and seeing that his speed actually drops to around 30mph. What does that mean? Well most often it shows that he lives there, that while he paid no attention to other limits, he is conscious of the limit in his own village and would not be able to live with himself if he ran into a neighbour. Expect him to stop at the local shop, or turn off with little warning. In fact, look out for him stopping to chat with a friend or neighbour. This should become more obvious as you monitor other drivers and is just as likely to occur in urban areas, where drivers suddenly change their habits for no apparent reason - and then stop or turn without  warning.

Whatever you think about other drivers, no doubt at some time in your driving career, other drivers would feel the same about you. We are all guilty of habitual driving and of having predictable habits that we can learn to understand an if necessary alter in prevent them becoming a contributory factor to our next accident.

Earlier in the manual we discussed "Grey" vehicles - well there is one truly grey vehicle which is almost totally invisible in the UK, the ubiquitous BT van. BT has the largest fleet in the country, the vast major­ity of which are Grey vans - but what do you know about  them?

  • If you notice a BT van emerging from a side road, what do you next expect to see  happen?
  • If you pass a BT van on a narrow country road, with the driver busy up a telegraph pole, what can you anticipate?
  • You are following a BT van  and considering an overtake, what  extra precautions should you take?

The answers are all connected, in that the most common factor associated with the use of BT vans is  that they operate in pairs, or even in teams. Logically you would expect one emerging BT van to be fol­lowed by a second. Passing one van working on a pole often means another nearby, possibly  in the   most inconvenient part of the road and often just beyond a blind bend. Finally, if the BT van you wish to overtake is apparently alone, and the second van is not in your own mirror, then he may be in a hurry to overtake himself, or may turn off suddenly into a driveway or turning other than a "normal"  road.

So where does this leave us? Do we need to adopt an intense paranoia about the actions of other drivers? Luckily the answer is no! The easiest way to use this information is as a reminder of why you need to control or maintain space. Space is the real goal in any advanced or defensive driving  tech­nique, without space you have few options. Even with space you are limited in certain areas and have to be prepared to use the space that you are protecting to give you the options that you are seeking. As  long as you can slow, stop or avoid hazards in your own time and under control, you will seldom become involved in the problems of other  drivers.

Space should be thought of as an escape route, a means of avoiding contact with other vehicles. But why is it that you can manage to stop and avoid hitting others with care, but then someone unexpected ly hits you and spoils all of your efforts? Believe it or not, much of the blame could rest with you not having given the other driver sufficient information to enable him to be aware of the hazard. You may have maintained your safe stopping distance from the vehicle ahead of you but not allowed more because of the  proximity of the following vehicle.

So now we are moving from theory into practice. Now that you have understood that you can predict the actions of others, how do we notify the less wary? How do we "control" other traffic without them becom­ing annoyed at us and exercising Road Rage? The trick is to give them the signals that they will respond to, or to give them the impression that one possible action is about to occur, when in fact you are about  to do something slightly different and perhaps more unexpected. Most importantly , you must constantly tell yourself that no matter what you have learned and what you know about the potential for danger, you will be the only person expecting it and as such must carefully take control of protecting  your own  space.

"Controlling" Other Drivers

One area that is not immediately obvious is that of vehicle positioning. We are so conditioned to what is regarded as the "normal" driving position that we seldom consider any other. On your next excursion out in your vehicle, look for police cars and watch the difference between a trained police driver in a traffic or area car and one from your local cop-shop who is driving a typical patrol car. The difference will be­ come apparent when you see that the trained driver is more fluid in his positioning. He will adapt his road position to account for worn road surfaces, often driving in a "staggered" position to other drivers.

This is part of the handling section that we shall cover later, but as a means of controlling traffic, it is   very potent. By positioning your vehicle slightly off-centre , you will attract more attention as far as fol­lowing drivers are concerned, while allowing you greater vision, grip and therefore more options than the average driver. If you wish to take control of a queue of vehicles, try slowing and simultaneously moving slightly nearer the crown of the road. This will alert them to a potential change of speed or direction. Not only will drivers take heed, but they will also do so without any bad reactions  or Road Rage. What   drivers react badly to is lack of information, not a surplus.

For surveillance or security purposes, you will often need to look at your driving in a different way, in­ stead of conforming you may need to control other drivers, without them becoming aware. The main aim may well be to hold back so as to avoid being spotted by your target. Or it could be to maintain space in order to protect a passenger from a risk of hijacking or assault. Whatever the specific reason, you need to practice safely and carefully in order to be comfortable with the use of these techniques before you need to use them in anger.

The principal aid to all of this is the inability of other drivers to calculate what it is you are doing. Most drivers can happily travel from A to B and never even realise that there was another vehicle sharing the road with them. Many have no recollection of anything along the way - except for situations which cause them to react suddenly. It is critical, therefore, that while we need to control drivers to attain our own goals, we do not wish to do so in an antagonistic way.

We have mentioned positioning, now we must consider speed. The use of speed is very much a disci­pline, which relies on you understanding the level of hazard in a particular situation. Sometimes your de­cision does not fit in with the general use of speed in the area, which means that you need to need to  have the courage of  your convictions and influence the speed decisions of other drivers.

For the traffic following you, this can be an easy matter, simply making early decisions and gently ad­ justing your speed to suit will be accepted by other drivers quite readily. Sudden changes in speed, how­ ever, will be met with some unexpected responses and possibly cause an accident. Even sudden acceleration can cause a problem as you "tow" other drivers with you into situations which they are unpre­pared for.

Think about a string of drivers having the qualities of a length of elastic. As the elastic stretches, the ten­ sion increases and if suddenly  one end of the elastic is released, there is a violent and sometimes   painful reaction. Your acceleration to catch your target may result in a string of vehicles doing likewise without any expecting you to suddenly stop or turn. The consequences of this are obvious and avoid­  able.

Similarly you have choices when confronted with vehicles wishing to enter the same narrow space. Imagine confronting  a  fellow pedestrian on the street. You both stop, apologise, then more often than  not step the same way, then apologise again, and so on. It can take forever to avoid each other and continue your journey. Alternatively you could spot the other pedestrian sooner and take the initiative. Similarly  in driving, if you can take the initiative, positioning yourself early to take the space, you will control the other driver's speed. He sees the change in position not as a threat , but as an indicator of potentially greater speed. You can take advantage of this without actually increasing your speed at all.

The same technique applies to the area of controlling  emerging drivers or assisting other drivers to choose not to do something stupid in front of you . Adopting a more central and dominant position in the road will  give the impression that you must be travelling faster. Rather than take the chance, other  drivers will generally avoid conflict. With skill you can make your passage through congested roads con­siderably  smoother, easier  and less stressful than you could currently imagine.

Another control technique - which is something that needs to be considered for all driving - is the use of the horn. Once you overcome the typical "British" reaction of embarrassment, the horn becomes a use­ful control device for the stealth driver. Use it as the Highway Code prescribes, which means for warning other drivers of your presence. It should not then cause any problems with drivers feeling that you are being aggressive or deliberately trying to upset them.

In a surveillance role, t he horn can prevent drivers pulling out and causing you problems, or pedestrians stepping out and causing you to stop. In faster traffic, the horn protects you when overtaking, when ap­proaching blind corners, crests etc. What it does not do, however, is give you any form of automatic pri­ority or other "rights". You need to understand the risks fully and always be prepared to give in to the un­ expected or extreme situations.

The horn is supposed to have the same protective quality as the flashing headlight but unfortunately lights are now abused too much - although there is still benefit to be found in using long-flashes of the headlight or driving with the headlights on, if the circumstances dictate additional  high-profile visibility.  In urban areas, horns and flashing headlights are so commonplace that your use of them is unlikely to be noticed by the target vehicle - so once again you have a tool at your disposal which can give you an edge over the "average"  driver.


Designed originally as an alternative to the seat-belt in American states where making drivers wear belts was considered to be an infringement of their liberty, it has now become accepted as a "must-have" ac­cessory

So why doesn't the "average" driver worry about anything going wrong? Well, he "knows" the safety fea­tures of the car that will save him, he believes that everyone else on the road knows that he is there, and worst .of all  he thinks that he will be able to cope with their next move. This perception is not helped by the fact that advertising of cars often involves demonstrations of accidents and how easy it is to avoid them. The promotion of Airbags, ABS and Traction Control in these adverts all help to give the perception of safety without actually having to cloud the issue with  the  facts.


Let's look at one example of how this came about. ABS - now commonly known as Anti-lock Braking Systems - was originally devised for use in aircraft. It  basically reduces braking pressure when lock-up  of wheels is detected and then re-applies the brake when rotation is restored. What it means is that con­trol of steering  is maintained.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz produced the first modern systems for cars in the eighties, although I remem­ber a mechanical Dunlop system on the Jensen FF in the late sixties. When the nineties arrived, so did safety as a means of selling cars. Suddenly the car to have was the one with the best seat-belts, or the best crash-protection, and then of course, the one with ABS. The fact is that despite the widespread use fitting of ABS and the acceptance of  it as a safety device , the average driver knows little about it or what it can do. There are numerous comments about  ABS which I have heard over and over again.

Traction Control

A derivative of the same ABS technology which uses the same sensors to prevent wheel-spin or loss of traction.

"My new car has ABS, I can definitely feel the difference compared with the last  one."

Not true, unless maximum braking has been applied and a skid is caused, the ABS system remains passive.

"Now that I've got ABS, I definitely feel that I stop more   quickly."

Not true, in fact ABS - when used - can actually increase stopping distances rather than reducing them, depending on the sensitivity of the system. It's principal aim is to retain steering and control - not improve braking.

"My ABS has a switch on the dash, I always make sure that I switch it on and that the light comes on before I drive off."

Well, for a start the switch is there to de-select the ABS, and the light comes on when the ABS is switched off.

What this all means is that the addition of a safety device has actually caused a misconception of per­ceived safety and so the true benefit of the device itself is not realised. What it means to us as .drivers  is the possibility of them becoming less aware of the risks and so the risk to us increases. In the USA, where this risk was first identified, drivers of ABS equipped vehicles in some states have to carry huge stickers advertising the fact so that other drivers give them more room. In others they are actively en­couraging the disconnection of airbags or the fitment of a disabling switch to control their   operation.

Signals,  Warnings  & Avoiding Conflict

Brake lights are one of the least understood items of a car's basic equipment. The need to display them has never been more important, but the fact is that with modern braking systems, we can actually brake more rapidly.  It becomes clear that this indicates a reduction in the time that brake lights are on show in   a situation where the need to be aware of the braking is greater. The solution is to show brake-lights be­ fore actually applying brakes. Simply resting your foot on the pedal displays the lights, giving other  drivers adequate warning time. This is a sensible way of generating space behind you - something which novice instructors seem either unaware of or unwilling to  teach.

Having taken control of the space behind for braking purposes, what happens when you need to  steer around the hazard instead of simply stopping? This will be almost impossible unless you have planned it from the outset. Consequentially, it is vital that you offer yourself an “escape route" for any hazardous situation. You should continually look for space, monitoring the potential for risk and then imagining where you would steer in a particular situation. Having achieved this you will find that simply knowing of an escape route and looking at safety rather than danger, you will more often be able to achieve it eas­ily.

Where will this escape route be? Well, everywhere from side-roads to peoples driveways, from pave­ments (empty of course) to the opposite carriageway (likewise). In a security situation you may need to take a more extreme escape route to avoid physical danger whereas when under surveillance you will probably be happy to avoid a hazard and then continue your work unscathed after negotiating the prob­lem more carefully. The sight of you accelerating down the wrong side of a carriageway is more than likely to draw the attention of your target, as well as the general public and any local   constabulary.

Other escape routes to consider include the hard-shoulder of a motorway, the grassy central reservation of a Dual-Carriageway, or through a hedge into a soft grass field. All may be preferable to being in­volved in a multi- vehicle collision or endangering other road users. One way of remembering to do this is every time you have to make an adjustment in speed that you weren't expecting, ask yourself why you weren't expecting it and whether you already had an idea of where to go in emergencies. If you did not, then your concentration level is lower than is  necessary for safe driving.

It needs to be pointed out that driving on surveillance or as a Pl is not so dangerous that these extreme measures are always necessary. However, the point is that all drivers should receive such information, but unfortunately are only trained to a level that was considered adequate for the 1930's - with a minor tweak here and there since. In general the standard of driving in the UK has not kept pace with the in­ crease in average speeds or the complexity of the vehicles being driven. How often do you read in your local paper "the car left the road" as if some how the driver had no part in causing the   incident?

The final part of the art of avoiding conflict is in seeing the warnings that others miss. You will be aware of warning signs that you see every day - as per the Highway Code - but probably unaware that they are erected to commemorate an event that has regularly occurred and not simply erected at great expense to prevent accidents from occurring.

The same applies to the erection of Pedestrian Crossings - often in the most ridiculous place you may think, but in reality it is because this is where people are getting killed or injured. The true warning is in the road itself, the speed lim it, the presence of shops and other hazards which all indicate the need for pedestrians to cross. Most obvious of all are skid-marks, clearly indicating the late-braking by drivers caused by a hidden or obscured hazard.

Think of skid-marks as the greatest free road mark ing of all. They occur all over the place, from hidden junctions to bad bends. Often they trace the path of the vehicle that left the road on a bend, which actu­ally indicates a potentially worn road surface. Later you will learn to expect the skid-marks as you begin to recognise the wear and tear on road surfaces, thereby making it easy to reduce speed earl y and avoid the possibility of control loss yourself.

Other warnings exist to provide the same level of information - the fact that street lights usually appear on the outside of bends means that bends can be spotted early and the direction of travel   calculated.

The presence of the same lights in the distance can also indicate junctions or the presence of a 30mph speed limit. If you wait to see the sign to know that these are approaching, then you are becoming re­ active as this information  is  clearly available much earlier with a little effort.

Driving can be a pleasurable experience, with minimal stress or other hassle, provided you know how to decipher the information that is freely available. Here are a few more  examples:-

  • If you see vehicles coming towards you with lights on - expect to encounter fog, rain or an­ other  weather hazard.
  • If you are travel ling on a busy road and the oncoming traffic is "bunched" into small groups, expect road-works or traffic lights for some other reason to be waiting up ahead.
  • If the motorway you are travel ling on has a brown tourist information sign, you could expect a lot of activity sign at the next exit - because over a million visitors a year need to visit   that tourist attraction to warrant a motorway sign.
  • If you are approaching a bend on a rural road, but the hedge directly ahead has a hole in it, you can expect a poO[ road surface or an adverse camber - either of which would prevent you from making it around the bend. (Remember, slowing and being wrong is better than not doing so and being right.)

Weight, Balance and Maintaining Grip

Now we have covered the basics of getting you to look outside of your vehicle to gather more informa­tion, we should briefly take into consideration the forces acting on your vehicle should you need to make a change of speed or direction in order to avoid any  problems.

Weight is a critical factor in vehicles. If your vehicle is full of equipment for your work, try to spread the weight and secure the heavy items securely. There is nothing worse than when you brake hard and the contents of your vehicle continue moving forward. I have already mentioned the benefits of using a van and this is yet another one. Having to carry equipment around is a nuisance, but in a van it can be ac­commodated without compromising the safety of the vehicle too  much.

The other problem with weight is how it affects handling and other characteristics of your vehicle. Hav­ing the correct shock-absorbers, tyres and importantly tyre-pressures, will all help to offset this problem. Too much equipment in the boot of your car may not be noticeable in normal driving, but as soon as you brake hard or swerve to avoid a hazard , you will find the vehicle wanting to "swap-ends" with catas­trophic results. If you must carry heavy equipment, try to carry some inside the passenger cell and therefore between the axles, thereby distributing the weight more evenly.

After you have taken care of the weight problem, balance can be maintained more readily if you remem­ber to always brake and steer smoothly and precisely. Sudden or jerky movements are the most com­mon cause of control loss - especially those caused when braking on the approach to a bend. Most drivers fumble with their gear-levers while braking, often changing through the gears for no reason. This is an antiquated approach as engine braking is neither desirable or very necessary in modern driving.

Always concentrate on removing all excess speed first, then changing gear to the required gear for the bend or other hazard. Then as you accelerate through the hazard, both hands can return to the wheel to maintain control.

This may sound a little like stating the obvious, but again very few drivers actually do this as it is not a natural skill to learn. Most drivers are still  changing though the gears as they were taught many years  ago, although many go through the motions without releasing the clutch between gear-changes, which means they are in fact approaching the bend out of gear, with one hand on the wheel and with limited control if things go wrong. This is one area which has been amended in the driving test and now you    can be marked down for changing down gears for no reason. Control is gradually becoming more impor­tant in order to reduce the accident rate among younger drivers and this is seen as one way of achieving this easily and safely.


Large Goods Vehicle used to be known as Heavy Goods Vehicle or  HGV.

The available grip on modern roads is notoriously variable, with road surfaces breaking up all over the country and "patching" taking place to provide temporary repairs rather than complete new surfaces.  Grip depends on the "footprint" of your tyre on the road surface and the quality of the surface that it makes contact with. If, for example, the two nearside wheels of your vehicle are on good tarmac, but the two offside ones are on a worn patch caused by LGV's braking , any attempt t.o  brake will result in a  sharp veer to the left. This surprises many drivers and then panic sets in , causing more severe control  loss.


The effect caused by a build-up of water under the tyres of a moving vehicle.

Try to consider the size of each tyre's footprint, multiply it by four and remember that this is all that is keeping you on the road. In the wet it can be reduced by the surface water and tyre wear. A new tyre can expel twelve gallons of water per second , per tyre at 60mph. A worn tyre proportionally less of   course and a worn tyre on a saturated road hardly any. Hence the common effect called "Aquaplaning" which can affect any vehicle travelling at  over 40mph. The best  description of aquaplaning that  I have ever heard is "surfing with a tonne of car strapped to your  butt".

Needless to say this was an American definition but certainly describes the feeling of helplessness that arises once the car begins to aquaplane. Once you feel control being lost, lift off the accelerator, but do nothing else until contact with the road is restored. You do not want to hit the road surface at speed with your wheels turned at 45 degrees and suddenly find yourself spinning out of control. This is the same as skidding on ice and better avoided than experienced for real.

From these examples, you can see the benefit of correct balance and weight distribution. What is less obvious is the difference between classes of vehicle. Many of you will be driving 4x4 vehicles, although not necessarily off-road vehicles in the true sense, but urban off-roaders designed as leisure vehicles. Unfortunately they have one drawback that is seldom mentioned when purchased. The higher than usual centre of gravity makes them considerably more unstable at speed or when turning sharply. Vans are similar, but less severe than 4x4 vehicles due to wider track and a lower floor.

This difference must be taken into account when practising the braking exercises and other routines mentioned in this manual. You are responsible for knowing the limitations of your own vehicle and we cannot accept responsibility for any difficulties that you may suffer through over­ zealous use of the techniques recommended in this manual. Remember that only you can control your vehicle's condition, the position of your tyres and the speed you are travelling at. If you leave the road, there is often no-one to blame but yourself!

Braking Skills

The importance of braking skills cannot be over-emphasised enough. It is the single weakest part of our driver training, but the most important skill if we are to avoid an accident. The use of braking needs to be a controlled action based on a choice of where to brake, when to brake and how hard to apply the brakes. Unfortunately, in most cases, this is not the case and the brakes are used reactively, usually late and often too severely for comfort or safety.

The best way to understand the need to brake safely is to consider the forces that are in play when brak­ ing is applied. Dissipation of energy is the principal factor involved and the most important form to be considered is Kinetic Energy.

While I do not intend to turn this subject into a physics lecture, it is necessary to grasp one simple princi­ pal that affects the outcome of every collision accident suffered by drivers irrespective of other circum­ stances. What you need to remember about Kinetic Energy is that it increases as a product of the square of the speed of the vehicle. The formula is very simple:

Kinetic Energy = 1 MV2 , where M = mass & V = velocity

This means that while you may think that travelling at 40mph is only 33% more than the 30mph limit and so is not a particularly serious offence, the kinetic energy available at 40mph is far greater and so causes more damage and far greater injury. The move to introduce 20mph limits in the highest risk ar­eas is actually a very sensible proposition, as most children would survive a collision with a vehicle at this speed. Unfortunately in a 30mph collision, most children are seriously injured and many die, while at

-40mph most die! Unfortunately for most children, they do not live in 20mph speed zones and even if they did, most drivers fail to adhere to them correctly.

The most common age for a child to be involved in a road accident as a pedestrian is at 12 years old. This may seem strange, but it is the age when the skills required to judge the speed of an approaching vehicle are yet to be attained, but at the same time they are considered old enough to explore the area alone, on foot or on bikes, and so share the roads with the vehicles that they are unable to safely avoid. By the age of 16 these skills are just about attained, but a year later they are behind the wheel and likely to run over the twelve year olds who appear to run out in front of them without warning.


The Kinetic Energy formula also explains the stopping distances recommended by the highway code. The stopping distance for a vehicle travelling at 20mph is only 20ft, but at 40mph it is 80ft. How many drivers can honestly say that they know that there is no hazard within 80ft ahead of them in an urban environment? At 20mph we are covering 30ft per second, and if our vehicle weighs one ton, we have a kinetic energy value of 1,008,000 ft/lb. At 40mph, where we are covering 60fps, we have an incredible amount of energy, over 4,000,000 ft/lb . and at motorway speeds, 80mph in the real world, an amazing 16,000,000 ft/lb. of kinetic energy - which explains the horrendous damage caused in even the simplest motorway accidents.

In the real world, braking skills are taken for granted, in that we are expected to learn to brake through practice in our normal lessons, but even the so called emergency stop is conducted at 30mph in a con­ trolled fashion. We then progress to faster, more powerful cars, equipment  such as ABS and other  newer devices and yet do nothing to improve our braking skills. What we need to look at now is how to improve our ability to react, to brake and even to out-perform the ABS that is fitted to our vehicles, or be able to use non-ABS equipped vehicles safely.

As well as raising awareness, there are areas of knowledge and training which can make a real differ­ence. For example:

When your new car is delivered, ensure that you are fully aware of any new equipment fitted and can . make good use of it if necessary. For example, an emergency stop on a straight and wide stretch of road will ensure that the ABS is functioning, is working on all wheels and that the driver is familiar with it's operation. (When drivers first hear and feel the ABS working they often release the brakes

fearing that a wheel is falling off or that the braking system is damaged. This prevents any thought of avoiding the hazard - so they hit it!)

Understanding the possible reasons for common accident scenarios and the causes of them will serve to remind you of the areas which you are most likely to ignore when you are driving a high mileage on a daily basis. This can take the form of group discussion, review of near-miss reports, (see 3) and theory training using some of the aids provided with this manual.

Increased awareness of the number bf accidents that have occurred within your company , as well as the number of near misses, will ensure that your company drivers do not think that they are "immune" to accidents or that accidents always affect others but never themselves. If you do not al­ ready have a recognised reporting procedure for near misses as well as accidents, you are missing out on a valuable resource. The ratio of near misses to actual accidents currently runs at 9:1 or higher, so highlighting them prevents accidents rather than simply waiting for them to happen and then trying to prevent a repeat.

Regular practice of your braking to ensure that your equipment is fully functional, that your brakes are efficient and not pulling unexpectedly and most importantly, that you can manage to use the Thresh- old Braking technique that you are about to learn.

Only by taking a positive decision to carry out this level of self-training and understanding of this area of risk can you hope to be able to either use your ABS equipped vehicle correctly, or to avoid involvement    in an accident irrespective of whether your vehicle is ABS equipped or not.

Let us look at braking techniques in more detail and in particular what you can achieve with a little prac­tice and how this compares with the average driver that  you meet on the  road.

Cadence Braking

A basic skid prevention technique that involves pumping the brakes as they begin to lock-up.

It is considered now to be a cause of instability and if used in an ABS equipped car, it can be dangerous and prevent maximum braking from being  achieved.

The only braking technique that you may have hear of is Cadence Braking. This dates back to the . 1930's and was the prescribed technique of improving the braking ability of vehicles when skidding occurs. It also helped to offset the problem of the inefficiency of early brake systems and the fading that occurred if prolonged braking took place.

The technique involved "pumping" the brake pedal to constantly release and re-apply the brakes rapidly , thus preventing long skids - but unfortunately at the cost of increasing braking distances. This technique rapidly became outdated as braking systems improved and then more recently ABS and other electronic aids were introduced. Unfortunately, many drivers still insist on using cadence braking or do so by re­  flex, with devastating  consequences .

Imagine first what occurs when ABS operates on a modern car:- 

  • The Driver applies the brakes hard or on a wet surface
  • The ABS sensors detect that one or more wheels are  locking-up
  • The ABS releases one or all brakes momentarily, then re-applies them for the driver.
  • The vehicle remains under control and so can be steered to avoid danger but it may take longer to stop in a straight line.

This indicates the one thing that most people are not aware of - ABS is a control device and not a braking device.  The ignorance factor here stems from the showroom where most salesmen have never even experienced ABS in anger and do not grasp the significance of the equipment.  Furthermore, they do not see it as anything more than a means to sell vehicles - otherwise training would be offered to all purchasers.

Now you need to consider the reaction of most drivers to the ABS as they first feel it opera ting. The most common reactions are as follows:-

  • Panic - The driver feels a severe juddering through the brake pedal and thinks that the wheels are falling off. Consequently he releases the brakes and careers into the object he was avoid. This is the most common reaction in drivers experiencing ABS for the first time and so causes the most common problem in road accidents - the rear-end shunt.
  • Fear - The driver is concerned at the strange sensations he is feeling and freezes on the controls. This means that although the option to avoid the other vehicle or hazard was available, the driver failed to take that option and hit the hazard under full control. Little can be done to overcome this without practice and the know ledge that the ABS may operate under emergency braking. Only af­ter one or two attempts , the ABS becomes a useful tool.
  • Habit - This is the worst scenario. Drivers who have many years experience of driving, but little or none of ABS operation, find themselves tempted to use Cadence Braking in an emergency. This is dangerous. The rhythmic pumping of the brake pedal will coincide with the operation of the ABS and the result is the driver releasing pressure as the ABS tries to restore braking. This can result in violent undulations in the vehicle's movement, known as porpoising in Driver Training circles. The result is no control or braking!

It is now obvious that the need for training is becoming essential. The problem then arises that depend­ ing on what level of training is offered, drivers may have a number of reactions when braking in an emergency. Many will concentrate on minimising their braking distance, some will concentrate on steer­ing round the hazard and the remainder will still wonder why the ABS isn't working - due to the fact that one in ten systems currently in use do  not  work correctly or will fail when used due to poor mainte­nance.

Threshold Braking

The latest emergency braking technique taught to professional drivers and government bodies in many countries around the world.

The solution is simple and is one taught by security forces around the world, as well as at the FBI Driver Training centre at Quantico, Virginia. In the UK it is known as Threshold Braking although other terms are used in certain countries. Developed from the skills used by Formula One drivers, Threshold braking is very simple. If you consider the reason why cars skid which is a loss of friction caused by either a smooth road surface, a wet road surface or simply by excessive brake pressure - it is obvious from a theoretical viewpoint that reducing that pressure will remove the problem.

This is the theory. In practice, however, it takes more skill to only remove the excessive pressure and to allow the vehicle to brake at maximum efficiency. A look at the braking diagram will illustrate the prob­lem, but from a practical self-training point of view, you will need a car equipped with some old, worn tyres. (The reason for this is the high risk of "flat-spotting" the tyres at first and the excessive wear caused by severe braking.) After equipping the vehicle, you will need an off-road site suitable for prac­tice. Many disused airfields and other facilities exist and it is well worth tracking down your nearest one.

Now you need to ensure that the ABS will operate or the vehicle will lock-up. A safe way of trying this is to carry out a series of emergency stops from 25mph and increasing the speed in 5mph increments. By 35mph you should be experiencing ABS operation or leaving strips of hot rubber on the surface of your test area. Now try an emergency stop at 40mph but as soon as the vehicle locks-up or the ABS begins to clatter, gently release braking pressure until grip is restored or the noise of the ABS stops. Now comes the difficult part. Hold your foot at this point and you can maintain maximum braking effi­ciency. Gently applying mo re pressure will prove this as the skid will re-start or the ABS cuts in again. Now you have achieved braking that is more effective than ABS, and retained full control of the vehicle. 

From the simplified graph, you can determine that the principal benefit of Threshold Braking is to offer control and stability that even ABS cannot achieve and to ensure that control of the vehicle is down to  you and not an unreliable mechanical or electronic device. Currently 10% of all ABS systems are either not functioning or defective in some way. Unfortunately the drivers of these vehicles will never know un­til it is too late. The operational efficiency  of ABS systems is getting better, but is not as good as the track  record of the brakes themselves.

Using the Threshold Braking technique, now you can develop the ability to brake and avoid the hazard. To do this, you need to  set up an obstacle, preferably using traffic cones, (see diagram),  then simply  carry out the same exercise as before . This time, however, you need to remember that the point of the exercise is to steer around the obstacle rather than simply to brake. Once you brake and obtain control through threshold braking, steer smoothly but hard to clear the obstacle, then correct the steering so that you end up parallel to the target. This is to simulate a lane change or move to the hard-shoulder of a  motorway. After several attempts , your confidence will rapidly grow and the simple act of lane changing will become second nature - which is exactly what you will need in an emergency.

  1. Apply maximum braking, then release as wheels begin to lock, freeze as soon as nearest point below lock-up is achieved
  2. Steer in the chosen direction, smoothly and looking precisely at where you wish the vehicle to go. 
  3. Correct the direction of travel and either remain in the next lane or return  to the centre as you see fit.

 You can also try the exercise with the ABS alone if your vehicle is so equipped. The effect is the same but the braking less efficient. You will also notice the change in the way the ABS operates while steer ­ ing, continually adjusting to compensate for the difference in the available grip. Trying to beat the ABS is a good indicator of your skill level as the ABS will give you somewhere between 85% and 95% brak­ing efficiency, whereas Threshold braking offers 98/99% in a continuo us format. As you gain confidence, try to work on avoidance in both directions - our instincts may well want us to move to the left, but the escape route will often be to our right. Once you feel confident, you may like to vary the shape and size of your exercise area, narrower lanes etc. If you are confident in your ability to avoid hazards instinctively, you only need to practice the methods of finding escape routes mentioned previously.

Another useful addition may be to find a local skid-pan or to use your training site on a wet day when the same effect can be achieved at lower speeds and the drama of the potential skid is increased. Remem­ber to allow plenty of room for mistakes though! If you have access to a skid-pan, consider taking some professional training in skid control and  then add this to your armoury. Skids do not only occur under braking, so a thorough familiarity with the handling of your vehicle will be the most valuable accessory you  can buy and as a high-risk driver, the best investment for your business that you can  make.

You may find that your instructor does not understand what you mean by Threshold Braking, but if you ask, I am sure he will let you practice. Don't be surprised by his apparent lack of knowledge - there are comparatively few instructors in the UK who understand braking techniques in such detail. Having prac­ticed this exercise and ensured that you are prepared to use it in a real emergency, then consider shar­ing  this information with family or friends.

Braking is one of the least understood but most important aspects of driving - it should be considered a potential life-saver and as such, not simply be limited to yourself, but to those around you. The same rules apply to ABS, where you may decide to use this as your primary control aid, keeping Threshold Braking for emergencies. This is OK as long as you practice and ensure that the system is well main­tained. There is little point in having ABS if the one occasion that you need it, it either fails or you forget how to use it.

Chapter 3 Checklist

  • Remember that advanced driving is not the same as fast driving or aggressive driving, but rather the applied use of greater knowledge to improve safety, allow smoother driving and provide more opportunity to avoid hazards or other risks.
  • Space is the principal area of protection and must be controlled or maintained in as many directions as possible to provide a cushion of safety around the vehicle. Any intrusion into this area should be countered with an increase in space in the opposite  direction.
  • Speed needs to be used prudently, not always driving to the prescribed limit, but adjusting speed in accordance with the prevailing conditions, level of risk and the needs of other road users as well as yourself.
  • Control of the vehicle is maintained and improved by the careful control of the balance of the vehicle. Careful control of weight distribution and driving in accordance wit h the weight being carried will ensure that the momentum of the vehicle is controlled and it's stability is never compromised.
  • Speed as well as steering need to be adjusted and used smoothly and carefully. Forward planning will allow gentle speed decay rather than violent changes in the speed of the vehi­cle which can lead to skidding. Likewise the smooth and controlled application of steering can assist in the detection of any control loss caused by oversteering or   understeering.
  • The vehicles limits in terms of performance may well fall inside your own personal limits of ability. Never allow these two to become confused and make demands of your vehicle that it can clearly not achieve without extreme  risk.
  • Braking safely is an art - it involves the smooth application of sufficient pressure to the brake pedal to control the reduction of speed without the possibility of losing control of the vehicle. Take time to train yourself in a skid-ca r or on a suitable surface with work tyres fit­ ted. Try to learn the Threshold Braking technique that can be used on any vehicle to max­imise braking.
  • Skid control is a skill which must be acquired if you are to drive professionally. It should not only be associated with driving on snow or ice, or on saturated roads, but should be consid­ered to be a part of everyday life that can be caused by poor road surfaces, painted road markings and even dust on a dry road in summer. With care and practice, most skids can be avoided by the use of your predictive skills - and those that aren't should be controllable and survivable relatively easily.

Chapter Four :: Surveillance Driving

"Surveillance is 99% boredom followed by 1% mayhem"
(Quote  from an ex-KGB operative) 

Surveillance Driving is not normally recognised as being a particular skill  when it is seen in the context  of Pl operations. This is because the Pl does not usually see his risk level as being on a par as that of an operative of one of the world's security forces. The truth is that the risk to the operative conducting the surveillance  is higher than normal due to the simple fact that he is having to drive in a reactive rather than pro-active format. This is obvious as unless he knows his target's intentions, he has to wait for each change of speed and direction to be able to respond with a decision as to what he needs to do next.

Sometimes the options to improve on this are limited, but in general, the more the operative tries to use his enhanced skills in prediction, the less re-active decision making he needs to make and so the smoother the whole operation. In most operations, the target is conducting either a regular journey or a trip to a relatively predictable destination. Often it is only when this routine is broken that the actual pur­pose of the surveillance is achieved and the operation successfully concluded. 

Before we get involved in the more complex aspects of multiple target operations, let us establish a few ground rules:

Target Selection and Recognition

What exactly does this mean? Is there a special skill to selecting and recognising your target?

Well, not really a skill, more a use of common sense. Before you can begin to follow your target, you must ensure that you have the correct target - especially if he is aware of the risk of being followed and may employ a decoy. Try to assess the identity and use verification with available photos and other information be­ fore committing to following the target vehicle. There is a need to ensure that you have a good position from which to check this, using whatever needs are at your disposal. Try not to be fooled by the use of clothes belonging to your target that are easily identifiable, but the face is obscured. If your target sus­pects that he is being watched, any number of ploys will be attempted to give the impression that he is either leaving or remaining when he has already left by a covert means.

Once you have selected the correct vehicle to follow, you will then need to develop skills in positioning and observation well beyond those of average drivers in order to complete your operation successfully. As a novice driver, one of the principal objectives is to be able to learn how to keep the car on the road, away from the kerbs and away from the opposing.traffic . In order to achieve this, certain guidelines are given to novice drivers regarding where to position the car. "1m from the kerb", for example. Whatever you were told, after a few lessons it became habitual t o follow your chosen method and this becomes imprinted on your brain - basic programming for your "autopilot".

Defensive Positioning

Choosing the optimum position to give you the greatest view and the best chance of being seen by oth­ers, the best options to avoid hazards and the opportunity to brake or  escape.

After passing the test, you may think that you have become more flexible, but the fact is that because    the average driver uses auto-pilot while driving, to avoid having to concentrate, he is likely to stick to the earliest learnt principles of positioning. What is not going to happen automatically is any form of Defen­sive Positioning, for this to take place there has to be a conscious effort to break away from the simple programming that was required for the passing of the driving test and in it's place to offer a reason  to think differently.

In the most extreme cases of "normal positioning" , drivers have been known to follow each other int  o the most ridiculous situations. No doubt you will all have seen cars sitting behind stationary buses - thinking  that they  were sitting  in a traffic  queue.  These drivers  failed to see beyond the bus because they were follow ing a novice approach to positioning. Often they then cause a further tailback to form as other drivers simply join the queue without  questioning the reason for it. In one of the most extreme cases I have personally witnessed, a car in Manchester followed a tram into a road which then became a rail-track only - and claimed not to have seen any signs!

Driving in the UK is difficult  enough,  but  simply  by having  to drive  while  following your target  can  multi­ ply the potential  for risk and must  be compensated  for by enhancements  in your skill level.  To be a good stealth driver, you must be an excellent driver generally. Obviously if you are following a target vehicle, you cannot afford to let these incompetent drivers prevent you from carrying out your task so you need to adopt a different set of rules. What you must adopt is a state of mind that allows you to pre­dict the actions of others so that you are not distracted from the main aim of your mission. Whatever stupidity you observe , you must remain dispassionate and focused on your target - let other drivers make their mistakes and never think that you can change their way of thinking by the use of gestures or aggression.

As you enter traffic with your target vehicle in view, you need to adopt a position close enough to main­tain a good view - (as we have already mentioned, a van would afford the best forward vision) - as well as to give you an idea of the driver's intentions, such as turning or stopping. Whether or not you are driving a van, consider taking up a place slightly off- line from the other traffic, usually further out in the road. This gives the driver a commanding view several vehicles ahead and is one of the most common procedures taught to police officers. The other benefit is it allows you to communicate with several vehi­cles behind, as your tail lights and right hand indicator are more visible.

From this position you can identify a feature of your target vehicle which will act as your focus, so that you can avoid mistaking it for an identical vehicle that may suddenly join your traffic queue. Likewise   you can use your position to look beyond the target vehicle to see what hazards they are approaching before they recognise it themselves. This advanced information can allow you to adopt a more defen­sive position yourself in case you are unsure of the next action of the target vehicle. As an example, if you see a junction approaching and a choice of lane is necessary, you can adopt a central position until you are sure of the choice being made by the target vehicle. (Note . if you feel that the target vehicle is trying to lose you by making an late or irrational decision, occupy both lanes and give your­ self either lane in case you need it)

Losing your target is common in modern traffic, but don't panic. Use your judgement and try to maintain the route you anticipate the target using. Look for clues as to where it may have gone and don't forget to scan for parked vehicles or vehicles travelling in the opposing direction. In the majority of cases, you will re-establish contact in no time and as long as you have confirmed the ID by using the distinguishing fea­ture mentioned earlier , there is little room for error and the operation can continue smoothly.

If the vehicle is difficult to follow due to it being a common type or colour, (imagine tailing a yellow cab    in New York or a white Transit in the UK.), then you may need to resort to "marking" the vehicle your­  self. Depending on the vehicle, there will be a spot where a carefully and discretely applied fluorescent coloured sticker can be applied to the offside rear corner, thus making identification easier in dense traf­fic. Stickers can be plain or disguised with some form of icon giving the impression of being an advert    for a band or some other marketing promotion. If applied to the bumper or if it is an MPV, the corner of the roof, where you can see it easily from a van, the sticker will provide an easy marker and thus reduce the workload on the driver of the tailing vehicle. (As a bonus, the sticker shows up very readily  on a  video camera should you be undertaking a rolling video  operation.)

When the opportunity arises, consider changing drivers in order to vary the appearance of your own ve­hicle. If you have followed the recommendations given earlier, changing the appearance of your van   with magnetic signs can also occur at this point. Ideal opportunities are when the target is refueling, shopping, or making a brief business call. At this point, you also need to have a position to observe the target or at least the entrance  he will use to emerge. Your own  position should cover any possible direc­tion of travel once he emerges . Ideally a side-road or entranceway allows you to reverse into a secure position and only  the nose of  your  van would be visible.

Remember that if the target enters a car-park or some other off-road sire, there may well be a second or third exit that needs to be covered and operatives may need to be dropped off to be available for ongo­ing surveillance  by foot or bike. In the most severe cases, the target may be making a vehicle swap and   it should be possible to cover this by dropping an operative to follow the target into the car park on foot. The use of additional  operatives is not always possible, however, so consider "abandoning" the  van on the side of the road - hazard flashers on a static van are an extremely common sight - and following on foot to ascertain the actions of the target.

Swapping vehicles is another common ploy, especially in the areas of fraud and industrial espionage. Ensure that you. have positive target recognition in the correct vehicle before re-commencing the surveillance. At the very least, the information gathered from a vehicle swap or the targets use of the car-park to "shake-off' a tail is another useful item of evidence that will further add to the proof of his  guilt. If a driver uses a car-park for such purposes he is bound to be about to carry out something worth following him to - but if you lose him on the first attempt, you can be better prepared the second  time.

Depending on the reason for following the target vehicle, there may well be a second target to follow, which we will cover in the next section. For now consider the need to complete the surveillance of that first target and the possibility of further clandestine meetings or activities taking place. The same devi­ous methods are used by the unfaithful husband and the industrial spy alike, so try to think of what you would need to do in their position and be prepared for it.

Sometimes the target has a specific method of changing vehicles - whether it's booking his car in for a service and borrowing the courtesy vehicle or abandoning his vehicle at an airport long term car-park to give the impression of leaving the country while actually switching to a hire-car for a day, week or what­ ever. Often the solo operative trying to follow his quarry and mistaking the car swap for a genuine trip abroad will find himself stranded as the target collects his pre-paid hire car keys in the terminal and  leaves by a separate exit to collect his hire car. Remember , there's usually a next time and you can wait by the hire car compound on the next occasion.

The last thing to consider is the use of disguises - not false beards , but simply changing clothes while swapping cars may well throw off the unwary tail. Look for the target leaving his vehicle with a bag and heading.for the gents or stopping at a golf club or sports centre where he may well have a perm anent locker. Often the opportunity to continue surveillance by road is lost by simply making a wrong assump­tion about the motive for choosing a particular place to stop. In the more extreme cases, targets have been known to swap vehicles in car washes, exchange clothes and vehicles with van drivers in cafes   and even park up in the cafe car-park, then slip out the back and catch a lift with a depart ing truck from the other parking area.

All of these ideas have been used as evidence of the targets guilt and so any evidence of these identity changes, disguises or vehicle swaps can be used to strengthen your client's dossier of evidence. If you can also acquire evidence as to whose vehicle has been used in the swap or whose premises are used for the storage of disguises etc. it will be a useful trail that could prove to be critical to the case as a whole.

Assuming you have successfully picked your target and followed him for the duration of the journey,   there is the problem of what to do when he arrives. You will want to select an ideal observation point for the rest of the night or even a few days, but did you do anything to reserve your space when you left?

The chances are you didn't, but one of your operatives could hold the space with his car as you left if you had planned it - or if working alone, a few strategic cones can do the trick. (Yet another good reason for using a van, portable parking space) 

After you have successfully completed the journey and either arrived back at the target's residence or the destination, make a decision as to whether you need to refuel or carry out other routine operations before the next journey is made. At this point, it is also worth considering whether the target vehicle is in a better position for attaching a tracking device, thus saving the need for close surveillance next time.

The use of such equipment has meant that "virtual surveillance" is now possible, as is "out of sight" surveillance which can enable the use of different vehicles and the better selection of parking places when static. Depending on the needs of the mission, the risks can be controlled much more easily in some cases - but we will continue looking at the worst case scenario as this is where the greatest bene- fits can be achieved.

Finally, remember that once you arrive at the destination and prepare to take-up static surveillance, you become the target in that the static vehicle with obvious occupants in residence stands out in an urban area like a sore thumb. You will be spotted by "observant" neighbours, passers by, kids playing in the street and passing Police patrols. Nothing looks more suspicious than a car full of people who appear to be doing nothing in particular. With a van, the driver simply needs to park and then leave the vehicle, thus removing suspicion, leaving his colleagues in place in the back of the van. He can easily return at some point to rejoin his colleagues, after dark or slyly slipping in via the side door.  Vans are an every­ day sight on our streets and in most cases are ignored by the majority of people. The exception is if they are parked badly, inconsiderately or annoyingly in the way of a local resident. Do your best to find the least conspicuous and least inconvenient spot from the point of view of the other residents, that way you can expect to be ignored most of the time.

Progressive Target Surveillance

So far we have considered following one person in one vehicle. What if the target is more than one per­son, or more than one vehicle is involved. This is where progressive surveillance comes into it's own.

Beginning with the methods described previously, you will one day find yourself with a dilemma 7 whether to follow your original target or to continue with a new target following a meeting between the two of them. If you are prepared for this, there is no problem. A second vehicle or tracker on the first tar­ get's vehicle can assist, which is why planning on these kind of operations is essential. You may have to decide in an instant which is the more important target and you may not have the luxury of calling your client for a decision.

What do you decide to do if you are on your own? Well , unless you have the need to maintain surveil­ lance on target one for some reason that is more important than learning more about target two, the choice is obvious. But to carry this out you need to know if he is going to leave on foot, take public transport or if he has a car nearby. Consider leaving your vehicle to assess this and to get a closer look at the new target. Return to your vehicle, however, before the new target leaves in order to safely ac­ quire photo evidence and to keep your options open for tailing him.

In most circumstances, staying with your vehicle is the best option, even if he takes a bus. If there is a tube-train or underpass involved however, you need to consider abandoning your vehicle and following on foot or bike - (see the choice of vehicle section). If you need to abandon the vehicle , raising the bon­ net and depositing a handily positioned bottle of dirty water on the ground will convince any nosy offi­cials of the genuine nature of your breakdown. Arrange for the vehicle to be collected if possible or if you feel that you are going to be tailing the new target over a long distance.

The same techniques as before are employed in positioning and in maintaining the view of the new tar­ get, but be more aware that you are likely to know less about his anticipated movements and he may well leave the town and head for an airport, or just go home. As soon as you can make a safe decision as to what you feel his actions are, then make a call and update your base or your partner of your loca­tion and intentions. You are now entering a more uncertain area in that you have no background on the target and need to be wary of protecting yourself and your vehicle. Generally, however, the second tar­ get is less likely to expect to be followed, less wary of vehicles tailing and so can be followed with less concern over being spotted.

If you have a contact who can offer a trace of the new target's licence plate, consider using this now and see if the target's address fits the general route being taken. If it does, then you may be able to predict   his movements and make it less likely that you need to make sudden decisions. In addition, you can - if necessary - arrange for a fellow Pl to make his way to the location and when you arrive , for him to main­tain fixed surveillance. Alternatively , you may wish to have someone confirm that target one has re­ turned home or travelled to the anticipate location .

Never forget that it may be possible for the target to be setting you up with a dummy meeting and a false second target.

Multiple Target Surveillance

For more elaborate operations, it may be necessary to establish a multiple surveillance operation, for which your van would make an ideal operating base. You will need more field operatives, at least two per anticipated target, as well as additional equipment and disguises etc. From a driving point of view, the difficulty  arises when the targets travel in one vehicle and then  separate.

As we have previously mentioned, a typical surveillance  van can be equipped with mountain bikes and  so when a target leaves the vehicle that you are following, you can let an operative out unseen to con­tinue pursuit. If the second target has his own vehicle, in urban areas the bike is often sufficient to con­tinue the operation. If this is not the case, such as a rural location or on a dual carriageway, then a deci­ sion needs to be made as to which to follow at that point. Generally, if the target vehicle has additional targets on board, you may choose to follow it and leave an operative to try to follow the loose target as best he can.

If he begins to follow by bike, he can always change to a car or taxi as soon as the circumstances  allow - especially if arranged by yourself by telephone. This is often enough to overcome the crisis and the target can be covered safely. However, it is also easy to loose this second target if he has prepared his own getaway previously and you should be prepared for this eventuality. Don't forget you will need to re­ cover your operative at some point.

But what if the targets are all in vehicles, then you need to arrange for a set operation plan for which you will act as co-ordinator. If you adopt this role, take a back-seat in the main surveillance and concentrate on co-ordinating and assisting where possible. However, you need to move with your targets, so choose the most important and follow well back - tailing the tail vehicle ideally. This way, any sudden problem   can be overcome by you taking over and continuing the surveillance.

If the operation is convergent rather than divergent, in that the vehicles all start separately but converge on one point to meet, then the only real problem lies in the number of your own vehicles present at the scene. Ensure that each driver is briefed on more than one targets address and route in order to swap them during the meeting and so vary the vehicle being used to follow the target. Never use the same vehicle both ways if it is avoidable, the risk of detection is always present and on a two-way journey the coincidence of being followed by the same car is often spotted quite  quickly.

Whatever the needs of the operation or the number of targets to follow,there is one more impor­tant area to consider, the driver.

Whether it is simply you or the team working for you, the stress increase caused by surveillance is such that you will need to consider providing opportunities for training exercises and for improving the skills previously discussed - observation and spatial awareness. Allow for the fat that different operatives will have wildly differing levels of skill and do not expect them all to have the ability to naturally drive well. If further training is required, try to use professional organisations that can offer practical training in the ar­eas that you require. The typical route of using RoSPA or the 1AM may only serve to reinforce basic driving skills and may not push the skill levels of your operatives sufficiently to be of benefit to your op­erational requirements.

Avoiding  the  Obvious Mistakes

This your opportunity to put into use the accumulated knowledge of surveillance operatives from many years of trial and error. In order to give the best impression of being an innocent bystander rather than making it obvious that you are in fact not, you need to learn from the mistakes that we are about to run through, In each case the point may be an obvious one, but it didn't prevent the operatives concerned from making the mistakes - even after training.

  1. Parking in a prohibited space - is a sure sign that there is something not right. With vehicle clamping at an all time high and the presence of red routes through major cities, less vehi­cles park in restricted areas than ever before. Consider the need to plan the parking place carefully, even using a nearby driveway with the owners permission is preferable to remain­ing conspicuous and liable to be clamped.
  2. Parking but not leaving the vehicle - as we have mentioned, is not only an obvious sign that the vehicle is parked for some clandestine reason, but it draws the attention of passing Po­ lice vehicles and Neighbourhood Watch members. Remember that because you are "on a mission ", you do not have the right to do as you please. Others will view any unusual actions by yourselves as threatening to their personal security or that of their neighbours. Try to act as relaxed and "normal" as you can when you first arrive, you can always am end your behaviour as the need arises later. If you have a van or vehicle with heavily tinted rear windows there is more opportunity for static observation, but generally it is ill advised for more than short periods in a normal saloon car.
  3. Emerging from a hidden observation location , then returning out of sight - is a ridiculous way of checking on a target. Cars simply do not do this normally, so you shouldn't do it ei­ther. Park with your vehicle out of site if you need to, but then work out a way to make your observations discretely on foot. There are a myriad of possibilities for more discrete meth­ods of observation and it is wrong to assume that simply because you are in your vehicle, you are somehow invisible.
  4. Giving incorrect signals - is a clear sign of a re-active driver. If you assume the target is turning and then it doesn't, but stupidly you have applied your indicator, then it looks very suspicious and you may have left yourself open to being spotted. The use of signals must be carefully controlled and timed so as to perform a safe function without any fear of them being misread or misunderstood. The general rule is that signals only need to be given when they would benefit another road user. The simple rule is No benefit - No signal.
  5. Slow cornering - could be described as the most common failing among surveillance opera­tives. If you are anticipating an ambush , then I would understand the need to creep round a corner, but in any other circumstance, the speed of the vehicle makes your intentions crystal clear and will  confirm any suspicion that the target may have already had about  you.
  6. Red-light jumping - don't do it! Even emergency vehicles are not covered by law in such cir­cumstances, so you will not stand a chance if the red-light camera catches you. You also need to be aware that lights can be triggered by buses and emergency vehicles using transponders, so any attempt to drive through a red light could make you vulnerable to a collision with a bus or fast moving ambulance - which you probably wouldn't  survive.
  7. Weaving and erratic positioning - is a dead give-away to the most unaware target. We have discussed positioning in great detail and it needs to be emphasised that what has been rec­ommended is continual positioning that can be altered and amended gently and smoothly. Seeing your vehicle in an unusual position will not arouse suspicion if it remains in this posi­tion. It is simply seen as your preferred method of  driving.
  8. Sudden changes of speed and direction - when tailing are inexcusable as far as professional operatives are concerned. They take great care to blend and appear to be behaving   in accordance with traffic flow - so should you. With good forward observation, there is no need to suddenly brake or to violently change direction. In fact, the best professional opera­tives can predict a turn and reduce speed before the target vehicle even begins to signal themselves. This will serve to reassure the target that you are simply travelling the same way by coincidence and not deliberately following  him.
  9. Turning into private roads or driveways - may sound quite ridiculous and unlikely to happen, but in reality it often occurs when the operative fails to observe a discrete sign or other warning of the nature of the road he is turning into. Use your observation powers to the full - taking into consideration the increased use of security controlled private housing estates and car parks. The last thing you want to happen is to appear on a surveillance video carry­ ing out your own surveillance.
  10. Looking out of place when you leave your vehicle - This can cover a multitude of small de­ tails, but if, for example, you park your van and leave it in a suit or perhaps wearing working clothes but wearing shiny shoes, it will  appear immediately obvious that you are not what you appear. Always carry complete changes of clothing and accessories such as clipboards with delivery notes attached, perhaps parcels that you can appear to be delivering or if you have a second operative with a car on the same site, use overalls and pretend to be repair­ ing his vehicle at the roadside.

It must always be remembered that during surveillance operations you are vulnerable because of the_ nervous paranoia that exists in society today. Driving slowly around the block will give the impression of kerb crawling, parking and remaining in the vehicle makes the average homeowner think that you are preparing to burgle their property. If you are watching a target whose property is located near a school, you could be branded a pervert by wary parents and if you simply park up in someone's driveway with.­ out prior permission, you are trespassing.

Operations of this nature require planning of the most finite details if they are to succeed. If you are not versed in planning of this nature you will need to rehearse and practice. One possible method is to make   a colleague aware that you will be carrying  out a dummy operation on them and ask them to see how soon they spot you and then to let you continue the surveillance so that they can spot any flaws in your technique and methods. Use of project management software on your PC can assist in co-ordinating the various aspects of a surveillance mission and help prevent the more obvious mistakes from occurring. Even simple hand-drawn flowcharts can make a difference.

One final and very obvious mistake that often occurs is in the registration of the vehicle that you use. If your work involves high risk surveillance of persons whose contacts are likely to be powerful, you will leave yourself at risk if the registration of your vehicle becomes known to them and is traceable back to your business or your home. It is not practical to adopt the James Bond approach of multiple number plates or false plates that can be applied and you would find yourself on very shaky ground legally if you attempted this. The more obvious route is to establish a front for the surveillance part of your operation that can be used for the vans real identity and, if checked, can give a realistic impress ion of the vehicle being harmless and normal.

Surveillance is neither a simple task, nor one which everyone can naturally adapt to. It is, however, a powerful weapon in the armoury of a surveillance operative or Pl. As long as the preparation work is car­ried out correctly, there is a controllable risk involved and a wealth of potential information to be gained. Driving stealthily is more than just a part of this procedure, it is the single most important part of the tail­   ing operation. Too often the untrained driver loses his target and in the attempt to regain sight of it that follows, is involved in a ridiculous accident that becomes very difficult to explain to either the Police  or  to an insurance company.

Driving is a serious business and never more so than when you are forced to drive and maintain sight of a target. Your safety and that of your passengers and fellow road users must not be compromised in order to achieve your goals - nothing is worth that risk. There are other possible outcomes to this area of driving though, such as counter surveillance and anti-hijacking, which involve risks that you are not in control of. It is these areas that we must address next to complete the picture. In the meantime , use the checklist to ensure that the principal points of this chapter are fully understood.

Chapter 4 Checklist

  • While you may feel that you are following the correct target, the only time to be sure is be­ fore he enters his vehicle, not once he has taken you miles in the wrong direction.
  • To maintain safe surveillance, you need to think ahead of the target vehicle. If you cannot see this far, you must attempt to predict or prepare for any eventuality.
  • Your target may be suspicious of being followed. If t.his is the case, nothing will prove his suspicions are true more than your erratic positioning or unnatural use of speed. Try to  use only  smooth  and gentle  changes in  both to  avoid suspicion.
  • Your skills in positioning will be essential to both maintaining sight of the target and also controlling other road users. Do not let your escape routes become compromised or allow other drivers cause you to make poor judgement or lose your cool.
  • If you need to abandon your vehicle to begin surveillance on foot, ensure that your vehicle is not left in a vulnerable position and arrange for it's collection as soon as is  feasible.
  • Multiple targets cannot be followed by one vehicle , so plan in advance and either use multi­ple back-up vehicles or decide which target is to be followed in the event of a  choice.
  • Do not allow yourself to be fooled by the obvious ploy of a vehicle swap or use of a car park with multiple exits.
  • Do not be fooled by your target swapping clothes with a double at a suitable changeover point - such as a sports club or gym.
  • Your vehicle may well be inconspicuous when driving , but once parked you may find your­ self becoming the target. Plan the best spot to park and try to reserve it if feasible while fol­lowing the target vehicle.
  • Finally, the surveillance business is riddled with stories which ridicule the incompetent mem­bers who allow their cover to be broken by a careless oversight in their appearance or by having their vehicle traceable back to their business or home address. If you consider the lengths you are taking to carry out surveillance on your target, you should always consider the same techniques and possibilities being used against you.

Chapter Five :: Counter Surveillance

"The role of the double agent is simple. He gets paid twice for spreading the same ru­mours about both his employers.”

In the unlikely event that you are discovered while on surveillance, or that you have been retained to in­vestigate a particular person - and that person is in a position to respond - you may find yourself on the receiving end of some surveillance of your own. This may be to secure confirmation of who your client is or to attempt to block or prevent your surveillance by whatever means are at their disposal. Whatever the reason or eventual outcome, it is vital that the possibility is recognised and accepted as soon as pos­sible in order to take the most effective countermeasures.

One important aspect of discovering this is yet another branch of the observation skills that we have al­ ready mentioned. In this instance, you need to be aware of your surroundings, of other vehicles that   seem to be lurking for no good reason, or that follow the same route that you and your target are taking. If you are alert to the possibility, this may be relatively easy - except for one thing. We have already mentioned that drivers are generally poor at absorb ing information about their surroundings, what we haven't mentioned is that you may be one of those drivers. While you are occupied trying to keep your­self hidden and stay safe, you may find yourself being tailed and monitored in just the same way. To re­duce this risk, we need to analyse observation skills in even more detail than we have covered so far.

This may seem to be taking a daily event and subjecting it to in-depth analysis, which in a way it is, but in order to drive from A to B safely, this may be exactly what we need to do. It simply is not enough to expect everyone else to look after our safety, or to even think about us at all. A common quote is that for every four cars that you pass in the street, only one driver’s aware of your presence. This is based on the fact that you can only concentrate fully on one thing for 15mins out of every hour, that you have numerous other distractions outside the car, inside the car, inside your head, that  require your attention as well'. As a surveillance operative, the figure is likely to be lower except on the one thing you are being paid to watch, your target. This makes following you an easier task than you could ever imagine.


A behavioural term for the sensory  feedback felt by the body from external  sources.

Forveal Fixation

The medical term for  fixing your point of vision on one object  rather than scanning for hazards. Often the object is the car ahead which then leads to re-active driving and a very late response to impending hazards.

A more realistic figure is that you may only be aware of one other vehicle in every ten! This is caused by two areas Kinaesthesia and Forveal Fixation. Both are closely related and between them the driver   has very little chance of being aware of external hazards unless he is either deliberately making himself aware or has received an external warning to raise his awareness. You will have noticed that this is not specifically a Pl problem, the most common explanation of any vehicular collision, for example, begins with the phrase "all of  a sudden ". It's as if other vehicles just suddenly appear and cause a collision - when in fact in the vast majority of cases, their actions were predictable and avoidable with only a mod­icum of additional pro-active thought. In the case of counter surveillance only at the point of contact be­ tween yourself, the target, and your pursuers will there be a sudden realisation that you had seen them before, but simply hadn't realised that they were in fact watching you. There are several levels of cau­tion that we need to look into here, we should begin with prevention before we discuss the  cure.

Avoiding Being Targeted

If a driver has the correct attitude, then he will always be traveling at the correct speed for the situation, the road condition, the weather condition s. He will then have no need for excuses such as "All of a sud­den, he will never have to report that he has driven into a stationery vehicle or solid object, or that his vehicle has "left the road" and entered a field. He will never need to worry about his braking abilities, the effectiveness of his ABS or having to steer around hazards while braking. If this sounds too good to be true, then you have just realised how few of us actually do have the correct attitude when it comes to not wanting to be involved in another driver's  accident.

Virtual Surveillance

Where constant visual contact is not always necessary, there is always the option of surveillance by way of electronic tracking.

The same is true of avoiding being targeted. If you are to be subjected to counter surveillance for what­ ever reason, you will have to first become "visible" to your pursuers and if you have followed the sug­gestions and principals made throughout this manual, you will find that this may not be an easy thing for them to do. Likewise, if you have invested in a "tracker" device for "virtual surveillance" purposes, you will be far less visible and so almost impossible for your opponents to detect, let alone tail.

Take sensible precautions in any case, from the obvious points mentioned earlier such as parking dis­cretely to using a "grey" vehicle. You may also consider the additional possibilities such as vary ing the personnel and vehicles used for the moving surveillance and making journeys other than tailing using these vehicles to give  the impression of norm al activity. Establish patterns of behaviour that disguise your true purpose, while avoiding patterns that give away your intended activities. This may sound ex­tremely obvious, but it by far the simplest way of avoiding the need for anything more extreme in terms of losing a tail or preventing potentially dangerous contact or physical threats to yourself and your opera­tives

Bear in mind that if you are being watched, then your client was more than right in employing you as it appears that his suspicions were well founded. Give this information to your contact by discrete means and you may well find that the surveillance is called off. You should also take note of as many aspects of the opposition as possible in order fa be able to provide a report of their activities to the authorities if an when the time comes.

There is also the possibility that your client has employed you for just this purpose - because he is under surveillance, or thinks that he is, and would like to discover who or why this is occurring. In this instance, the boot is on the other foot and you are the one with the advantage as they will not expect you to be watching or countering their efforts. In this instance, do precisely the same in terms of precautions and gathering information - your client may well require you to give evidence of the activities of these people and if you have hard evidence in a visual form, especially video, he may even be able to call them off before any further harm is done.

This may sound very much like a scene from a "cold war'' film, but it is very much a part of modern surveillance operations. Industrial espionage has never been greater, trade embargoes are constantly being circumvented, employers are more likely to check on senior staff if they fear a hostile take-over, the list is endless. In each case, the use of trained personnel, such as yourself, gives you a whole new field to explore and in the commercial world, one useful counter-surveillance operation can lead to on­ going regular work on the other side of the fence. Finally, you must consider the private client who em­ ploys you to watch a spouse or partner. Never discount the possibility of the other partner feeling simi­larly aggrieved and employing an opposite number.

Identifying the Watchers

Unless they are wearing trench-coats and have the brim of their hat pulled well forward as they smoke a cigarette while standing half-obscured in a shop doorway, you would probably find it difficult to spot the average watcher on the street. In their cars, however, there is a different set of clues to look for, which we have already looked at in some detail.

Whereas a pedestrian is a pedestrian, unless he is wearing the incorrect clothing or as we hinted, over­ alls and shiny shoes, a vehicle user is a different matter altogether. Drivers do so for a reason. Very few of us these days simply jump in the car and drive around aimlessly for the fun of it. Seeing someone   else do just that should be enough to arouse your suspicions . If you are able to note the movements of vehicles passing your discrete observation point, watch out for regular "cruisers" who seem to have no specific purpose in mind.

Once they are stationary it becomes even easier. Look for the obvious signs such as the parked vehicle with occupants just sitting in it, or perhaps a car with darkened windows that appears to move a little from time to time. Vans are of course much harder to spot, but you now are aware of the possibilities and can treat any unmarked van with suspicion until you get the opportunity to find a reason to disregard the vehicle.

It is while moving that you need to be on your guard. If you have had no inkling of being watched until suddenly you spot something out of the ordinary in traffic, you may well have to call off your surveil­ lance at that point in order to limit damage to your operation. If you are observing correctly, you will find that it is likely that this first time that you spot them is their first attempt at following you - so you can    take them for a ride and totally disprove their theory about your activities. There are other options, such as calling for back-up and having them followed, but identifying them is the priority and for that you will need to be twice as sneaky, twice as cautious and twice as good as they are.

We will look a the issues involved in losing a tail separately, but for now consider the need to identify them yourself . Try stopping after completing a tun into a side-road. If they are following from a distance they will have little chance to avoid you and may well drive past while pretending that they wanted to travel that way anyway. Alternatively, stop at a garage or supermarket and let an operative disembark discretely to walk back past them and take details or covert photographs. Finally, consider letting the op­erative out at an opportune moment t0 collect their details while you drive an exaggerated circular route to pick him up again.

Once the basic information is gathered, you should have a plan. Ideally, disinformation is the key - use all your equipment and skill to show the vehicle being used in a totally genuine role - such as "delivering" packages or making calls at potential business premises should do the trick. Don't forget which identity your vehicle is using, nothing looks weirder than a plumbers van delivering parcels or call­ ing at a clothing manufacturers for example.

Expect your watchers to be better trained, better equipped and more of a threat than they probably are - you'll live longer. Consider the threat to be one which requires care rather than confrontation or aggres­sion. Whatever you think you may have spotted, there's always the risk of being wrong and legally you would be seen as the aggressor. It is better to avoid that kind of risk and to take a few simple precau­tions to protect your safety. Gather evidence, take photographs or video footage, notify your office or business partner as things take place and always keep them informed of your intended  movements.

Losing a "Tail" Safely

Most of what is portrayed in losing a fellow surveillance operative who is being paid to pursue you is usually nonsense. The image that Hollywood would have you believe is one of car chases which result   in the bad guys writing themselves off and so the good guy escapes with the glamorous client. The real­ity is both a lot less glamorous and at the same time easier to achieve with the correct degree of plan­ning.

Most tailing of vehicles is conducted form a safe distance, which leaves you with many possibilities for shaking off your pursuers. Stopping is the obvious choice, forcing them to show their hand and pursue on foot. If you have a friendly hide-away that you can use for that purpose, then do so. Your local bar or other hang-out  will  surely not mind  you  using  their tradesmen's  entrance  for a  discrete exit.  This can save a lot of hassle and does work as long as you make the visit appear to be genuine. There are, how­  ever,  other  methods.

In "Beverly Hills Cop" Eddie Murphy famously waited at lights to shake off a t ail. He stopped on green and waited for the red to appear before suddenly accelerating and beating the opposing traffic. This is a good theory but totally impractical in all but a rare few cases. So many drivers jump lights anyway, you would be dicing with death and also make it clear that you are aware of their presence by carrying out   the action. A far better approach would be to approach lights carefully and monitor the timing of their changes. If predictable it can allow you to slip through just as they are about to change and so leave the tail in a queue of waiting vehicles. You then have about 40 seconds to make yourself disappear - so do so discretely.

With the widespread use of roundabouts, this method is not always feasible, but another one is. If the pursuers are a few cars back and the roundabout large enough - you may be able to circumnavigate the roundabout slowly enough to appear behind them. However, you need to appear to be heading almost straight ahead to allay their fears and this may require a lane change in mid roundabout that would not make you popular with other traffic. Alternatively a 450 degree circumnavigation onto a road to the left  of your present chosen direction can leave them guessing where you went. Again try to look as though your intention is to continue straight  ahead, as any turn left or right can be verified from a  distance.

Other "normal" junctions are also useful in that with modern traffic conditions it is often only feasible to allow one vehicle at a time to emerge. You can take advantage of this in many ways, emerging then slowing the traffic immediately to cause a denser bunch behind you can move your tail further back. Al­ternatively if they have to reach the same junction, take another turn left or right and disappear be­ fore they do. Do not  worry about parking to see them go past as this leaves you more vulnerable.

Other vehicles are an asset in that they are predictable in their habits and can be relied on to provide a moving road block where necessary. This means that driving into denser traffic is more use to you than heading out of town. Do not try any of the heroics shown on the TV as these are carefully orchestrated and utilise trained stunt-men. Instead you should concentrate on remaining in a crowd where you have the greatest number of safe options and the protection of other people if matters should escalate sud­denly. It is also easier to find a police car or station that can provide a method of avoiding danger to yourself if you fear that a hijack is being planned. Do not be so "macho" as to think that you can always deal with the situation - you may have no idea what is going to happen to you or how much risk you are in unless you can control the situation.

Informing the Authorities

If you are conducting perfectly legal employment and have found yourself being threatened, you are just as entitled to the protection of the authorities as anybody else. Unfortunately many Pl's do not take this option as they do not wish to draw attention to themselves. I can understand this, but in general I would advise that at least having this as an option would be a sensible precaution and in some cases it should be the primary option under consideration.

If you are involved in a serious commercial investigation involving illegal dealings, smuggling, embargo­ busting or whatever, you will be far better off involving the authorities as soon as you recognise the  threat to yourself. Their resources are first-class and their intelligence is second to none. You must con­ sider the threat to yourself above the needs of your client as it his not his neck on the line.

If, while driving, you are subjected to an attack of some form, such as being "nudged" from behind, drive immediately to the nearest Police Station and do not be afraid to enter the car park despite any notices   to the contrary. It is bound to be under the watch of surveillance cameras and so your pursuers are un­ likely to follow you in. It may be an attempt at mugging rather than anything more serious and you can always give this as a reason for your actions. Only if  the Police require further information should you offer details  of what  you  are involved in.

Having reported their details and notified your client, you should seriously consider whether you wish to continue this contract, or even if you need to! Consider your personal safety before taking the risk of continuing - especially as you are aware of just how seriously they take your activities. If you are re­ quested to continue in order to gather further proof and to assist the authorities in catching these pur­suers then do so with your eyes open. Be aware that you are unlikely to be covered by insurance , either personally or for your vehicle, and that you have a risk to yourself that may well extend beyond any monetary  incentive that  is being offered.

Chapter 5 Checklist

  • To fully be able to counter any surveillance being made on yourself or your client, you first need to be aware of the possibility and then examine the possible methods and types of surveillance being used. Awareness is 90% of the game.
  • Once you have established the potential threat, do whatever you can to try to avoid patterns of behaviour or routines that can make the work of the surveillance operatives easy. In fact do what you can to make it difficult for them to operate without making it obvious that you   are aware of them.
  • If the counter-surveillance is against one of your own operations, then you need to disguise your operation by enacting a well-rehearsed series of movements and actions to disprove any thought of your personnel being engaged in any surveillance   activities.
  • You should take every precaution to ensure that other surveillance operatives cannot trace you or your vehicle back to your actual place of business or, more importantly, to your home. Use a separate business for vehicle registration purposes and provide a complete cover story that will support your activities if checked on in the usual fashion.
  • Try to identify your watchers, look for the obvious mistakes of people dressed incorrectly for their supposed occupation or who do not appear to be comfortable doing whatever they are trying to appear to be doing.
  • Remember that if you have identified a counter surveillance operation, it may be in your best interests to allow them to remain "undiscovered" while you provide disinformation for them to report back on.
  • If you are asked to counter an existing surveillance operation for a client, remember that you have the advantage in knowing more about them than they do about you. Use this to your advantage and keep them under control by leading them on false trails and steering them away from your clients actual activities. If you inform them that they are discovered, they will simply return and then they will have the  advantage.
  • If you discover surveillance being carried out against you and you fear that it is a potential threat against your or your family notify the authorities at once and allow them to deal with the problem while you check with your clients to try to find the cause of their  activities.

Chapter Six :: Hijacking & Personal Safety

"All I did was stop at the red light - the next thing I knew I was kidnapped mugged, assaulted and left for dead, why wasn't I expecting it to happen." 

Our subject was a major figure in a multinational oil company, he had recently returned from concluding a deal in central Africa and while there had received several death threats from extremist groups. He   took these very seriously and upon returning, took a course of training in  anti terrorist techniques. A  week later he was in traffic in central London, crawling at less than 5mph, when he noticed a guy on his left was keeping pace with him. At one point the traffic stopped and so did the guy, then he saw him give  a subtle nod of his head. Looking across the road in the direction the nod was aimed he saw several men starting to leave a van - suddenly it all clicked and he knew he was in danger. Having allowed him­ self an escape route he prepared himself to use it and as soon as the men approached him he reversed into the one standing behind and then accelerated to the opposite side of the road, dragging the men who were attempting to open doors on either side. They let go and he manoeuvred down the opposing traffic flow, dodging taxis, until he could make it to a side road and then the nearest police station. Our  view is that if he hadn't, he would be dead.

You can see from this that it is once again our observation and perceptual skills that can save the day, as long as we do not allow them to fade by worrying about other trivia or getting distracted by telephone calls. Urban areas are very easy for the would-be hijacker because they assume that all cars will stop from time to time and that if they are swift, nobody will even recognise what is  occurring.

Away from the urban environment , other techniques are employed to force the vehicle to stop. These are far less subtle and are used without raising suspicion simply because a deserted stretch of road is chosen for the purpose. Both areas may require similar techniques for avoidance and for extricating yourself from a hijack that is taking  place.

Typical Hijacking Techniques

Let us begin with an outline of typical scenarios, so that you can learn to recognise the signs as they ap­pear:-

  • You stop on a busy street, due to traffic, men appear either side of your vehicle and approach simultaneously. One may be carrying a map and appearing to be about to ask you for directions, or they may well pretend to know each other so that they can gain proximity before showing their true aim . One may then use a centre-punch to shatter a side window quickly and then let them both into your car, laughing and pretending that all is well and so disarming any passers by.
  • As you enter your vehicle in a car park, you are pushed from behind across to the passenger seat while your hijackers climb in alongside and behind you. They then drive you out of the car park. Alternatively, as you open your central locking and enter the vehicle, they do the same before you realise that they are there, and so force you to drive out of the car park.
  • You stop at a queue of traffic , suddenly there is a thump as the vehicle behind hits your car - despite appearing to be driven normally. Nobody takes any notice and as you get out to survey the damage, the remaining traffic is moving and going around your vehicles. Nobody notices when you suddenly find yourself in their car and someone else returns to yours and drives off.
  • You innocently stop for petrol, returning to your vehicle and driving out of the forecourt be­ fore you realise that in the back of the car is an armed man on the floor - who suddenly  pops up and makes you drive to where his colleagues are waiting.
  • While driving down a country lane, you come across an accident scene. There may be more than one vehicle involved, one may be rolled onto it's side and there could be "injured" par­ ties at the scene who are beckoning for help. This is a difficult one to ignore as your com­ passion is so strong. However, as soon as you exit your vehicle you are suddenly aware that they are uninjured and are brandishing weapons.

These are just some basic examples of actual hijackings from recent years and are by no means the  only methods, but they do show a common theme. That is to find a way of making the vehicle stop or to take advantage of it already being stopped for whatever reason. The vulnerability that you should feel in traffic in terms of suffer ing a rear-end collision or other accident should be multiplied if there is a risk of anybody wishing to hijack you. It is no "accident " if you are suddenly made to stop against your will in  the most extreme circumstances or at a surprisingly remote location. Often the only salvation is that the roads are becoming increasingly busy and the opportunities for such isolation are becoming increasingly rare. This is why so many hijacks are now performed in broad daylight in a crowded urban street - with­out witnesses!

Avoiding the Hijack

From these examples, you can also see that there is some room for avoiding the most common hijack scenarios, providing the basic rule of maintaining space is adhered to. This is no more than the spatial awareness that we discussed previously in terms of reducing accident risks, but exaggerated to allow you to leave the scene if you choose to do so. Here are some useful methods to  employ:

Open Junction

A normal Give Way junction in an urban or rural area which has little or no obstructions on either side and so affords a good view for emerging  vehicles.

  • Don't stop is the first solution to the vast majority of incidents. This is quite achievable in most cases, providing your planning is up to scratch. Consider the way in which a round­ about is supposed to be used, to ease and maintain the traffic flow. Each vehicle is sup­ posed to approach cautiously and be prepared to give way, but ideally slide into a planned gap in the traffic. The same applies to "open" junctions where "Give Way" lines are em­ ployed - as opposed to "Stop" lines which are quite rare. The critical factor is the speed at which you approach the hazard - as you are dragged along by the invisible elastic that joins all  urban  traffic together. Snap the elastic, think  for yourself  and arrive at the  queue as it begins to move.
  • Think before you start - or stop - about where the risks are in terms of who is around your vehicle:- Who is lurking between vehicles? Where is the best space to stop and be seen? How can I attract attention as I stop? Is there anyone in the car, especially on the floor in the back, before I get in? Many of the static hi-jacks are successful simply because we do not think of these areas. We are not programmed to be that suspicious, which is why women (and men) are so vulnerable in car parks and dark side streets. Raise attention before you leave or enter your vehicle by loud noise or use the  horn.
  • Don't get directly involved - in a situation which appears either unlikely or unusual. Rather than leaping from your car to help at an accident scene, check the scene carefully  while telephoning the police. Give details of location, vehicles, registrations if visible and descrip­tions of the people at the scene. Use of the phone will often make the hijackers scatter if  they fear they have been rumbled. Then from a cracked window, ask what the injuries are and advise that the police are coming. While talking, leave the vehicle in gear, handbrake off, and wheels pointing at an escape route. At the first hint of danger, leave the scene and advise the Police.
  • Travel on well used roads - as opposed to country lanes or other "short-cuts". These are perfect for ambush and can be taken over by the judicious use of diversion signs and plastic cones without raising any suspicions. The presence of other people may well just save your life, but you will still have to make them realise what is  happening.

Extreme Solutions

Closed Junction

A Give Way junction in an urban or rural area which has little or no vision for emerging vehicles. Often it is difficult to avoid becoming involved in the situation which can provide the opportunity for hi­jacking to occur. Traffic density can cause problems, as can the difficulty of emerging from closed junc­tions or traffic light controlled situations. Here the same basic rules apply, but need more careful  planning to achieve the desired level  of protection: 

  • Space the final frontier, which it really is in terms of accident prevention and personal   safety in a vehicle. For some unknown reason, we are obsessed with queuing and occupy­ing as little space in traffic as possible. We either all feel guilty at using our vehicles, or for some reason want to appear to be keeping the queue as short as humanly possible. This is exactly what a mugger or hijacker wants. If the vehicle ahead stops, stop further back and leave your wheels pointing away from the queue. A rear-end shunt may be accidental, or a deliberate act, but either way it is undesirable. Maintain rearward vision and if the vehicle behind appears to be closing too fast, drive away!
  • Do not relax your guard. Your autopilot is not a trustworthy means of protection and if you allow yourself to drift away, you will find yourself being taken advantage of by careless  drivers and hijackers alike. Give yourself the opportunity to control the situation and to avoid any conflict. Always be prepared to leave the scene before the incident  occurs.
  • Do not confine your thoughts when planning your escape route or other defensive op­tions. Pavements, verges, fields, the opposing traffic flow, the central reservation are all vi­ able means of escape from either a collision or a hijack situation . In the extreme cases where trouble is predicted, choose options such as side roads - as long as they go some­ where - and only stop in positions where these escape routes can be reached if required. You may even consider taking both lanes to prevent the hijackers coming alongside your vehicle.
  • Use the vehicle aggressively - is not something most people would naturally do, but if  you have space,  and have your wheels turned towards the assailants as they  approach you,  as soon as you  are  convinced of  their attentions drive at  them to  make  them  scatter,  but try  to avoid running them over. Other people will take notice and they will most likely  disappear.
  • Have an accident! This may well sound a little extreme, but imagine you have stopped,  your assailant has entered the vehicle and in seconds you are being threatened and made  to drive to wherever he tells you. He hasn't had time to put on a seat belt, so accelerate into the back of another vehicle and make the situation public in a dramatic way. Experience shows that in almost  every case, the hijacker disappears very quickly.

Chapter 6 Checklist

  • Hijacking and muggings are on the increase - do not ass um e that you are somehow immune to either. Prepare to defend yourself from one and you are already protecting yourself against the other. At the same time your awareness is heightened and you will be able to avoid the irritating problem of  urban collisions from careless drivers.
  • Space is critical to modern driving and to your personal safety. If you give up the space around the vehicle, you give up the options to do anything about avoiding trouble. Use your initiative and try to stop far less than other vehicles, use space more and constantly think where you would go if things go wrong. If no escape routes exist, make even more space for your personal use and don't be afraid to use it when necessary.
  • Hijackers do not need isolation to be effective, urban hijackings are becoming more popular. Be more aware of the activities of those around you and  in particular those approaching   your vehicle when you are slowing or are forced to stop.
  • Be selective about where you stop, where you leave your vehicle and who you inform  as  you do so. Making a noise and attracting attention can dissuade a would be assailant from making his move at that moment  and that may be al l that you need to exit a situation safely.
  • Be vigilant about personal security and that of your vehicle. It may seem that your car is as you left it, but any sign of forced entry could indicate an unwelcome occupant in the vehicle.  If in doubt, alert the authorities and make a fuss.
  • Be prepared to act in order to defend yourself. The shock of the attack can cause people to freeze, you cannot allow this to happen and you must carry out whatever your plan of es­cape was immediately  if it is to be of any use to you.
  • Involve other people in your problem wherever possible, this can be enough to prevent the hijack from proceeding.Involve other people in your problem wherever possible, this can be enough to prevent the hijack from proceeding.
  • Use the vehicle as a weapon, if that is the only option - but just in case, use it to threaten and not to harm or injure unless you feel that the actual threat to yourself justifies it.
  • Prevent easy access to your vehicle by moving the vehicle backwards and forwards until you can achieve your planned escape route. This also raises others awareness of your plight.
  • Do not panic - it only adds to your existing problems and clouds your thinking. You have a plan - use it.

Chapter Seven :: Ambush & Vehicle Tampering

"In  an argument, the one holding the gun inevitably wins  - so why get into the argument?” 

In this final chapter, we need to briefly cover the possibility of finding yourself out of your depth and face  to face with some kind of weapon. In contrast to the hijacking scenarios already discussed, we need to consider straightforward  aggression that may involve the use of some kind of weapon.

As a PI, the majority of your work will involve mundane forms of data acquisition, routine searching for people etc. In addition, there are also occasional jobs that will involve dealing with the more sinister ele­ments of society. It may well be that these elements will think nothing of using a weapon to prevent you from enquiring about them or from approaching them directly. This leaves the Pl in a quandary, to use a weapon himself, or to avoid  this type of work. The sensible among you will choose the latter course, but  if you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, a little preparation will prevent a lot of pain and anguish later.

Anticipating the Use of Weapons

Realistically, you may not be able to anticipate an ambush that involves the use of guns or other  weapons and as we have already discussed, prevention of any involvement in these areas is better than any form of reaction. You must, therefore, expect them in any dubious or unusual situation that you find yourself in.

Taking things to their natural conclusion, however, let us look at the worst situation and try to provide a pattern of defensive behaviour that w ill serve you well if you are attacked for real. As we have men­tioned, stopping your vehicle is a difficult thing to avoid completely, especially in urban areas - but in those urban areas, it is more likely that in daylight a weapon will only be drawn at close quarters and once inside the vehicle. Preventative steps will therefore be the best policy in these situations - espe­cially as extreme escape techniques require space.

Away from town, however, a vehicle which overtook you a few moments ago may well be waiting around the next bend and the occupant may be waiting with weapon drawn to ambush you. Instant action is required to overcome this and initially the vehicle should be prepared for the instant departure that you will require. Being aware of this will make you cautious of any vehicles that pass you and pre­ pared for the worst case scenario.

Avoiding Ambush

The moment you realise that a situation may involve weapons, the sensible option is not to hang around long enough for the weapon to be used. Assuming that some kind of road-block or other method is used to make you stop, the natural escape route is the way you arrived - and this may well be blocked in a few moments by an accomplice who was following you . Now is the one and only opportunity to act on the situation and leave. Initially, however, you need to prepare yourself and your  vehicle.

Assuming the gun is already raised and pointing your way, begin by stopping, under full control, but well away from the hijacker. As you stop, discretely slip the car into reverse gear and raise your hands to the windscreen submissively.

As your assailant begins to move toward you, hit the accelerator hard and after a few seconds of fierce reversing - turn the vehicle around. For this there are two principal methods, one very straightforward and one that requires practice.

The Two-Point Turn - is an obvious method of turning the car swiftly around, but unfortunately is not instinctive as the three point turn is the one favoured by novice driving instructors.

how to do a j turn

The "J" Turn is a more violent manoeuvre and should be considered only when the road is of insuf­ficient width to allow a normal two-point turn to be used. The same preliminary situation has to be assumed but with a greater degree of urgency as the narrow road can prevent escape to the rear  once blocked.

Do not be fooled by any media impression that this is an easy manoeuvre to achieve. In  fact it is an art which requires practice and should be attempted on a suitable, wide, off-road site such as a disused run­ way. After several attempts, however , it should be possible to carry out the manoeuvre with a reason­ able degree of competency when called upon to do so.

There are also other options if you have the opportunity to see the situation earlier or feel that you are about to be attacked, but have yet to reach the critical point in the road. Neither of these should be at­ tempted unless you feel the risk is high enough - and as with the above, should not be attempted on public roads unless a real situation demands it. These options are:

The "U-Turn" is easy enough to achieve on a wide enough road and with practice you can easily evaluate how much- road is required to easily carry out the manoeuvre. 

The "Handbrake Turn" is a more complex matter altogether and while it is the principal form of en­tertainment among young car-thieves it is the least controllable and therefore least precise form of turning the vehicle. If the road is narrow, however, and danger is imminent, it may be your only chance - so practice is recommended on an off-road site as with the "J-turn". 

For safety reasons - with all of these manoeuvres, you should practice with a set of well worn tyres that should not be used for road use subsequent  to training being carried out.

Vehicle Tampering

One last point regarding the use of weapons is the one seldom considered by many people - that is  when the car is turned into a weapon and can be made to crash, causing injury or worse but without the need for using "normal" weapons. To achieve this, a degree of vehicle tampering is needed, whether to sever a brake-pipe, plant an explosive dev ice or interfere with the vehicles electronic systems. What­ ever the method used, care needs to  be taken to check your vehicle before entering it.

If you imagine that as a pilot, you would not trust your aircraft not to have been tampered with or touched in your absence, the same attitude should be applied to your vehicle. Whether you have any known potential enemies or not there are some basic precautions that can be used if you have left the vehicle unattended  for any time in a quiet spot and cannot ensure it's security. These precautions  fall into two categories, the simplest of which are the re-active checks that can be applied to any vehicle in­cluding hire cars or borrowed vehicles that you have not had the opportunity to prepare in  advance.

There is a simple list of checks that can be carried out to cover the principal points at which a vehicle can be interfered with:

  • Approach the vehicle at an angle, looking beneath it for signs of objects attached, loose wires hanging and any signs of dripping or pools of brake fluid on the floor.
  • Examine inside each wheel-arch and the insides of bumpers in turn. These are easy places to hide devices, ranging  from small bombs to trackers and radio transmitters/receivers.
  • Look around the vehicle for discarded ends of wire insulation, tape or other signs of equip­ment used to attach devices to or tamper with the  vehicle.
  • Look for signs of forced entry to the vehicle and for any smudges or fingerprints on the car's bodywork.
  • Carefully open the bonnet and check fluids and electrics. Look for any out of place "black boxes" or signs of disturbed surface grime on the engine or sides of the engine  bay.
  • Examine the inside of the boot for anything having moved or been wrongly  replaced.
  • Finally, examine the interior of the car thoroughly to ensure that there are no signs of recent searching  or tampering.

Once you have mastered these points, the routine becomes a simple matter that can be carried out without too much difficulty. These are the basic points, but as you can see there are a myriad of places to disguise any tampering or plant any devices, so for your further protection it is recommended that these additional steps are taken as a pro-active means of reducing the risks involved.

Pro-Active precautions to protect the security of your vehicle.

  • When you leave the vehicle, apply wax or gel to the keyholes which can be easily checked on your return to assess whether any attempt to unlock the doors has been made.
  • Invisible tape, such as the "magic tape" used for positioning photographs when making up layouts, can be used to good effect by attaching a small strip across each door seam or panel opening in the vehicle. Any attempt to open a panel will result in the tape being disturbed and even if re-applied, it will not stick down in the same  manner.
  • Steam cleaning the underside, engine bay and wheel-arches of the vehicle regularly makes it more difficult for anything to be hidden or for any leaking fluids to go   unnoticed.
  • If you are able to, prepare the floor surrounding the vehicle with a fine layer of sand or other material that will record footprints and other activity. Whatever you use, make sure it blends with the surface that you are parked on and is not easily seen in the available light.
  • If your vehicle is fitted with hubcaps, either secure these at several points with cable-ties that you can identify as your own and use a discrete mark to show their alignment with the wheels themselves. Any attempt to move or remove the hubcap to secure a weapon or tracking device can easily be spotted and the device found.
  • Keep the vehicle polished to show any fingerprints easily, or apply a thin coat of a  suitable fine powder at the  critical points to show any sign of  disturbance.
  • If you can afford to have one fitted , use a remote control to be able to unlock and start the vehicle remotely from a safe distance as a final precaution against any ignition triggered de­ vices that  may have been fitted.

If these points seem extreme, then you are probably working at a level that will only require the use of  such measures in extreme circumstances. Those of you that are already thinking about instigating such extreme precautions are already concerned about your safety or the potential risks that your work in­ IU s for you that this guide has been taken to such extremes. With luck, you will never need to    use these techniques, but will benefit from the discipline used in learning and practising them. If you do have to use such methods, then it is hoped that you are able to prevent any harm from befalling you. It   is better to have the knowledge and never use it than to not have the knowledge and to wish you had it.

Chapter 7 Checklist

  • Always consider the possibility of weapons being used to threaten, dissuade or harm you if you are dealing with criminal elements or people in positions of power with much to lose from your investigations.
  • Be vigilant in looking for potential sites where you can be ambushed and hijacked.  Minimise the possibility of either from occurring rather than hoping to be able to defend yourself.
  • If you are able to see a situation developing, try to avoid it as much as possible by changing your route, taking an unexpected turn or simply leaving the scene as quickly as  possible.
  • Use escape routes where possible and try to draw attention to your situation to dissuade your assailants from pursuing or taking further risks to ambush you.
  • If you are cornered, think positively of escape and use whatever technique offers the   lowest risk and greatest control to effect an escape.
  • Your vehicle may well become a weapon itself and be used to scatter your assailants - al­ though you should not attempt this if there are weapons raised in your  direction.
  • Think of your vehicle as a potential weapon if used against you and do whatever you can to protect it from tampering and from having devices attached that can be operated remotely and discretely.
  • Consider any possible tampering as being serious - do not attempt to remove, examine or otherwise touch any device that is discovered on your vehicle.
  • Notify the authorities of any signs of devices attached to your vehicle - they are much better equipped to handle such devices and can defuse or explode them safely.
  • Never take your personal security lightly, never disregard any threat made against you, your operatives or your family. Notify the authorities of any such threat and allow them to investi­gate fully. You can still carry out basic precautionary measure yourself but in the knowledge that you are being protected by trained officers who can defuse the situation before  weapons are used against you.


"A bend in the road is not the end of the road... ... unless you fail to make the turn.”


Physical Exercises

A series of useful exercises that will make the stress of living in the car more acceptable.

  • "Bum Squeeze" Aptly named for what is often the first part of the body to go numb on a stake-out. Simply contract the muscles around your bottom - causing you to rise from your seat - hold for a few seconds and then release. This restores circulation to the legs.
  • "Quasimodo" A useful routine for reducing muscle tension, simply raise your shoulders as high as you can, then let them drop. One at a time or together, whatever is more comfortable  for  you.
  • "Tilt" As it's name suggests, simply tilt your head over to the shoulder in order to stretch the oppos­ing neck muscles. Repeat on the other side. This one is useful when the first pain of tiredness sets in or if you have slept at an awkward angle.
  • "Red Light Relief' Not as dodgy as it sounds, simply try to get into the habit of pushing back against your head restraint as hard as you can - holding for ten seconds - then releasing. This will ease ten­ sion in the neck and shoulders and works well if you try it every time you stop at a red light.
  • "Slow Blow" Driving makes you lazy, your heart rate reduces your breathing becomes shallow and worst of all you starve yourself of oxygen. This accounts for the accidents where the driver "fell  asleep" while on the outside lane of the motorway. As you will be in the car for long periods, consider deliberate deep breaths on.a regular basis - preferably four or five followed by one very deep one   with a slow exhale to keep you alert and refreshed.
  • "Short Pants" Another method of restoring oxygen levels is  to take a  deep breath  and  then contract your stomach muscles. Holding this position, then take panting breaths for 10-15 seconds.  This is a good occasional exercise but should not be repeated more than once an hour for safety reasons. Useful for delaying the onset of tiredness.
  • "Gut Buster" As sitting in vehicles is generally quite bad for you, try to establish a routine for main­taining muscle tone. Firstly try to tip your pelvis and curl it towards your navel. Keep your stomach tucked in and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat as often as you can, but not until you exhaust yourself!
  • "Ankle Twists" Are a good next step as simply pointing your toes downwards and rotating your an­kles in circles - both directions - send blood up to your legs, which improves circulation generally. This is especially good for combating varicose veins in women and is highly recommended when stuck in the car for long periods.
  • "Thigh Time" Finally one of the most neglected muscles when driving is the thigh. While stuck in the drivers seat, the thigh has little to do and so will suffer as a consequence. It is also hard to exer­cise it sufficiently, but what you can try is contracting each thigh in turn until you feel it "twitch". By repeating it five times on each leg you are at least maintaining activity in the thigh area. After this you need to move to the inner thigh.
  • "The Big Squeeze" But as this is a very difficult area to work on correctly the only easy option is to sit with your legs slightly apart and squeeze your thighs together and then release. Repeating these approximately 25 times is  a useful toner but not a substitute for other forms of exercise.

Personally, after spending time in the vehicle I prefer to use a bike at home for routine journeys. This not only exercises me to compensate for the worst aspects of driving, but also keeps me in touch with reality - something that can easily be lost when stuck on surveillance day after day.

published by Gauk