Here is a short reply to a question I received from a reader which I thought may be of general interest.
Thanks for the contact and I hope that we can be of some help.
A lot of what the military do in their convoy procedures makes sense. They are primarily addressing the most likely threat and that is of a motor vehicle collision. As with the same for any security driving. These procedures also help deal with a more hostile threat.
There are some sites out there which do cover the basics. Some Aussie 4wd club sites have some good basic procedures for going through harsh terrain.
But basic procedures are set out as follows:
Pre trip planning by the convoy leader and his appointed team is obviously essential. This should include a threat and risk analysis and detailed route planning. This is an ongoing process for the trip not just a one off thing. All intended routes need to be constantly assessed for safety.
The convoy leader and team should detail out who is where in the convoy and importantly who takes the rear position. The convoy goes the speed of the last truck.
As a side note: if you are being escorted at any time through potentially hostile areas by 3rd world armies and security forces, beware. They generally travel at top speed with little or no regard for safety to themselves or general public. No need to say that this type of procedure is incorrect!
Clear rules should be set out for any break in convoy procedure. As part of route planning, identification of rest stops and frequent rest stops are necessary. So no one has to break convoy just to take a leak.
Speed limits should be set. Alongside following distances. Convoys can tend to bunch up which can lead to a pile up or plain just not having enough time to make a following decision. The 4 second gap is good. Safer than 2. But you still must be able to see the vehicle behind you. Allowance must be made for the vehicle that wants to overtake the convoy. Lead vehicle should be going at a speed that it can easily stop within the distance that the driver can see.
Comms. Communication with radio should be done by a co driver if available. Communication by radio if necessary should be kept short and sweet. An emergency or a desire to halt the convoy can be given by a change in head light status. (I would recommend traveling with headlights on so as oncoming vehicles can id you from a distance).
Dealing with difficult terrain. Enforce the one vehicle at a time rule. Steep inclines can be dangerous. One vehicle should ascend whilst others wait away from the foot of the ascent. Survey on foot if necessary. I.e. never push the convoy into terrain where your eyes and brain have not been first.
I hope some of these basic rules help. In my opinion, the important part is what you do before you get on the road. Laying down rules and procedures and briefing all convoy participants on them and any contingencies. It’s a team effort and if one member of the convoy is not clear and has not been properly trained you won’t get any synergy.