NEWS

VEHICLES BEING USED AS WEAPONS: THE CHALLENGE

How to prevent vehicles being used as weapons and understanding your responsibilities for idling vehicles

Since the Nice terror attack of 2016 where a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) was deliberately driven into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day, it has become clear that using vehicles as weapons (VAW) is a favored modus operandi of terrorists. Since the atrocities of that day there have been numerous similar attacks, with a repeat of the devastation and destruction caused by VAW assaults.

It is an alarming trend and one which on the surface is incredibly difficult to police and guard against. How can we logically and effectively safeguard the public against vehicles that have the potential to be used in such incidents? Waste collection vehicles, delivery trucks, emergency service vehicles, buses, maintenance vehicles; the list is endless. Not one of these vehicles would seem out of place in a densely populated urban setting and all could legitimately access otherwise restricted areas without raising suspicion, providing a window of opportunity to carry out VAW attacks.

It is almost impossible to predict when and where such attacks may occur and with an apparent rise in lone-wolf incidents there is a very real concern the frequency of VAW incidents are only likely to increase. HGV’s have the potential to deliver the devastation terrorists seek and with in excess of 4 million HGV’s on the European road network the sheer volume of potential ‘weapons’ available makes for a complex challenge.

The question is therefore, how can you prevent your vehicles from falling victim to such attacks?

Prevent unauthorised use of unattended vehicles

Fleet operators are turning to Maple’s DriveLock, a driver recognition system, which guards against any unauthorised use of unattended vehicles, even if the engine is left running with keys in the ignition.

For many years, DriveLock has been used as a safety application, where a driver may have cause to be away from the vehicle cab whilst leaving the engine running; to power ancillary equipment for example. In the event someone other than the driver attempts to move the vehicle, DriveLock will ensure the engine is immediately immobilised, leaving the vehicle in a safe and secure state.

Though primarily used as a safeguard, DriveLock was originally designed as a security application. Crucially, unlike other systems available on the market, DriveLock specifically identifies individual drivers and allows only correctly authorised persons to operate your vehicles.

“One of the key benefits of the DriveLock system over others is the flexibility it affords. DriveLock can be used passively, thus the system will automatically distinguish between an authorised driver and an intruder. Alternatively the operator may opt for a manual authentication, whereby a driver must present their fob or wristband to a reader before they can move the vehicle. Either option ensures that fleet operators have an effective system to mitigate the risk of vehicle theft whilst they are in use, without impacting on day-to-day operations. The system can also be securely deactivated or switched off by authorised personnel without the complication of key management and can be reactivated within a matter of seconds” commented Alan Maple, Technical Director for Maple.

Rollaway Prevention

The Maple DriveLock system now also provides enhanced safety features, a response to an increase in demand for rollaway prevention solutions, which remains an industry wide problem.

“Sadly there has been an increase in recent years in vehicle rollaway accidents that have resulted in serious injury and even fatalities. We believe simplicity is the key to prevention and our anti-rollaway device obliges the driver to apply the handbrake before being able to leave the cab. Quite simply it removes the possibility of potential rollaways caused by forgetting to apply the handbrake; equally important is the fact that our system compliments and encourages the correct procedure, it does not teach bad habits by applying the handbrake for the driver, which could imply that the need to do so themselves is redundant,” added Alan Maple.

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