Why is Secure Transportation used by Organizations:
SGT is often used because of its importance in travel risk management. SGT significantly improves traveler safety by working to control the variables that could negatively impact the security of a traveler. Some examples of these variables that could impact a traveler include but are not limited to:
- Time spent in public spaces, for example airports, sidewalks, restaurants, meeting points etc.
- Unknown and/or unvetted drivers
- Untrained drivers
- Poor communication, monitoring, and oversight
Further, a lot of decision-makers know that while SGT improves safety, a by-product is often smooth, efficient travel that saves time and reduces traveler stress, which in turn supports mental wellness and improves productivity.
Is Secure Transporation Part of an Organization’s Duty of Care?
Some organizations that provide and/or mandate SGT for their travelers often do so because they think it is mandated by moral and legal duty of care.
Duty of Care:
The need for employers to meet their duty of care requirements to employees is a complex process to navigate for many organizations. Understanding what measures one can take to manage this level of risk remains a considerable challenge. Incorporating the use of secure executive transportation into a travel risk management plans is a prudent move to reduce risk and work to keep people safe.
Duty of Care – A Definition
The broadly accepted definition of Duty of Care is: ‘is a legal obligation, which is imposed on an individual requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence.’ Moreover there is now a growing recognition both in the courts and with potential plaintiffs that breaches of duty of care occurring abroad can be heard in U.S. courts. The number of cases being presented has increased and employment lawyers are particularly alert to the issue.
There is therefore by all accounts a legal obligation for staff and employees who are traveling overseas on company business. The constituent groups this affects are varied, ranging from executives, staff, accompanying spouses and dependents, students, teachers, volunteer groups, contractors etc.
Secure Transportation Considerations when Overseas
Traveling staff members will likely be most at risk and exposed to hazards when in transit – particularly when traveling by road or awaiting transportation outside of an airport, venue or business premises. There are also additional safety and security considerations for staff on travel abroad both in terms of their physical safety, costs associated with an incident (e.g. hospital bills, operational delays, missed deadlines etc.), but also of potential future litigation.
Business Travel Risk
The much publicized case (albeit an extreme example) in 2015 of former NGO worker Steve Dennis provides an excellent example. Dennis, a former staff member of the Norwegian Re (NRC) sued the agency claiming gross negligence and failure in duty of care after he was kidnapped and shot in Dadaab, Kenya. Dennis was traveling in a convoy through the camp when his car came under attack. The driver was killed, Dennis was shot in the leg and he and three other colleagues were taken captive. Interviewed in 2015, Dennis stated that: “Like everyone going into a risky situation for work, I believe there’s a minimum level of training and procedures required and when it’s not there I believe there should be accountability for it.” This case absolutely highlights the need to have deliberate and sensible measures in place for employees traveling abroad – especially in an environment where there is an increased level of risk.
Why may Organizations need to use secure ground transportation?
As most issues and incidents tend to arise when people are in transit (especially traveling in vehicles on roads) a significant consideration should be the use of SGT – with trained and vetted drivers. In higher risk environments with an increase likelihood of criminal activity, enhanced services such as armored vehicles or close protection may be utilized in conjunction with secure transportation. This will set conditions for a safer workplace abroad which in turn will allow your staff to focus on organizational goals.
“The Reduction of Variables – The Crucial Key To Minimizing Risk”
If organizations can manage and reduce the variables of airport transfers, overland travel, and vehicular movement, then risk can be reduced.
Ground Transportation – The Risk
A large amount of incidents tend to arise when people are in transit (especially traveling in vehicles), these include assault, theft, sexual attack, kidnap, fraud, and robbery. However, the risk of road traffic crash is always the biggest danger to every traveler.
From Jan 2016 to December 2022 there were 959 deaths recorded by the US State Department of American Citizens due to vehicle crash.
Each year, 1.35 million people are killed on roadways around the world
Medical emergency is often overlooked and whenever moving within a vehicle. If involved in an incident, medical response and emergency medical treatment may not be to the level that you get in your home country. Mid-level or minor issues can quickly develop, especially if in rural areas, or away from definitive and high-level medical care.
There are a range of criminal threats that travelers face when moving in vehicles, the risk to which varies with each specific location (and other variables). These include but are not limited to; smash and grab, carjacking, express kidnap, kidnap, assault, road rage, sexual assault, and theft.
There are two risks that female travelers are more likely to fall victim to:
- Opportunistic violent crime e.g. mugging
- Sexual Assault
Criminals by nature are predators and will normally focus attention on ‘easy targets’. Sexual predators may focus on women they assume will not have anyone immediately ‘missing them’ or checking in on them. They will also more likely work to position themselves into a role, or place where they have the best chance of success.
The nature of the predominant risks makes rideshare services, and unregulated taxi services an increased risk for female travelers.
Travel Risk – Probability Vs. Impact
Business travelers quite often have irrational or misplaced fears that can lead them to not feel secure, when in fact they are, while conversely some often feel secure when abroad but are actually far from it. A significant number of travelers fear the risk of high impact, low probability risks and, in doing so, neglect those risks that are statistically far more likely to kill or injure them.
Bruce Schneier said it best “Security is two different things – it is a feeling and a reality. You can feel secure even if you are not and you can be secure even if you don’t feel it,”
Human beings tend to exaggerate spectacular and rare risks and downplay common risks. This has led to many people often neglecting those threats that are statistically far more likely to kill or injure, such as road traffic incidents.
The high probability low impact risks always grab the attention of travelers. Often terrorism is at the forefront of people’s minds, especially in the immediate aftermath of an incident. The risks that are most likely to affect travelers continue to be transportation-related (often road traffic crash), medical, and opportunistic crime; all three of which are regularly neglected by travelers. Serious crime, natural disasters, health issues and political instability are all important factors to consider, also specific and current issues such as date rape drugs being utilized in a tourist hotspot, or a spate of recent muggings in certain locations.
The Security managers polled concurred across the board, citing road traffic crash as their biggest concern relating to employee travel overland.