G4S, British multinational security services company, recently released a comprehensive study on the increase of vehicular terrorism – highlighting the causes and recommended steps to use to take during an incident. This study has been used and shared by numerous organizations, including select cruise lines.

Below are some of the key points from this study, the full report can be downloaded here


Vehicular Terrorism

Recent vehicular attacks can have a lethal effect and it is easy for anyone to launch with little or no planning. Potential signs that may indicate that a vehicular attack is being planned:

  • Unusual Vehicle Modifications: Heavy equipment, passenger cars, and sports utility vehicles (SUVs), such as homemade attempts to reinforce the front of the vehicle with metal plates.
  • Commercial motor vehicles or heavy equipment being operated erratically, at unusual times, or in unusual locations, particularly in heavy pedestrian areas.
  • Attempts to infiltrate closed areas where traffic usually moves, but where crowds are gathered, such as for street festivals or farmers’ markets.
  • A vehicle operator’s apparent unfamiliarity with commercial motor vehicle or heavy equipment operation (unable to back up; trouble with shifting; poor lane tracking)


Basic Security Recommendations

  • Everyone should maintain situational awareness, especially observing the movement of trucks and buses. Any sudden deviation of route should be considered suspicious.
  • Businesses should review emergency and security plans.
  • Businesses should coordinate information sharing and local safety/security measures with Public Safety agencies to prepare for events and guard against suspicious activity.
  • When possible, businesses should conduct risk assessments and select predetermined lowest threat routes or places (to get on or off vehicles, to gather groups, to plan walking routes). Protection can be provided by parking cars, Jerseys, bigger plant pots or natural barriers like trees


If present during a vehicular attack:

  • Give immediate warning to surrounding pedestrians and notify law enforcement at first opportunity.
  • Immediately move out of the line of movement. Run at a right angle away from the vehicle and put objects between you and the attacker, such as buildings, trees, lampposts and garbage bins.
  • Do not run with the crowd. Attacking vehicles intend to target large groups.
  • Seek hardened shelter until “all clear” is announced. If possible provide emergency medical care Remember that the attacking driver may exit a disabled vehicle and attack on foot with a weapon.