* This page outlines proper procedures for conducting safe convoys of military vehicles. *
CHAPTER MVPA CONVOY PLANNING AND PROCEDURES
David Doyle and Ron Grasso
procedures have been developed with one factor of paramount importance
.... SAFETY, both for our drivers and passengers as well as other
motorists. These procedures
are based upon the US military's Transportation Reference Data
(FM55-15), Manual for Wheeled Vehicle Driver (FM21-305), the 3rd
Battalion 7th Infantry Convoy Checklist and our years of experience.
We hope that this article will help our trips go even more
smoothly in the future and will expand the role of each participant.
Each person plays an important part in the groups safe and timely
first step in a safe convoy is careful and thorough planning. To begin
planning a convoy, a few key pieces of information are needed. Among these are:
the most crucial parts of the planning is route selection.
There are many factors to consider when selecting a route.
It is very desirable to travel on four-lane divided highways if
possible, although the high speeds of Interstate Highways should be
avoided. Plan the route
such that as many turns on or off highways as possible are right turns.
Arrange the route such that most turns, especially left turns, are at controlled intersections. Congested city streets with many stops and starts should also be avoided. When planning rest stops make sure that there are adequate parking facilities for the number and size of vehicles you anticipate. Be sure that any awnings, canopies, overpasses and bridges you will encounter are large enough for the vehicles expected. These factors may require a less than direct route.
planning fuel stops make sure that the facility you choose has available
both gasoline and diesel, and is able to refuel several vehicles at
once. This will avoid
losing time waiting while others fuel. When planning for meal stops be sure that there is sufficient
secure parking for all the vehicles.
with the time the event host wants to have the vehicles in place,
subtract 10 minutes to position the first 5 wheeled vehicles (and
chairs, awnings, signs, etc.), subtract an additional 1 minute for each
additional vehicle above the first 5.
The result will be the time to arrive on site.
there the travel time can be calculated.
For most trips it is safe to estimate a travel rate of 10 miles
each 15 minutes on the road. This allows for variances due to traffic. It is extremely desirable to schedule a 15 minute stop once
every hour to hour and a half to stretch your legs, check over the
vehicles, and have a snack. If
it is necessary to stop for a meal, allow at least 45 minutes for this.
can now calculate the total elapsed time for the trip. To the total time it is necessary to add 10 minutes per hour
as a safety factor to allow for late arrivals and minor mechanical or
we have a theoretical departure time.
To this subtract an additional 15 minutes to allow the drivers to
check the oil, water, tire pressures, and to start and warm their
that the departure time has been calculated, the next step is to
actually drive the route in advance.
Leave at the scheduled time, preferably on the same day of the
week that the convoy is planned for, drive at convoy speed and note any
problems with traffic (construction, schools, shift changes, etc.).
Also note trouble areas such as no passing zones, soft or no
shoulders, etc. Make any
changes in the convoy route or schedule to compensate for these
problems, and remember to brief the drivers on these problem areas prior
to departure. Even if you
are familiar with the route, it is best to make a special trip noting
the above factors. It is
best to plan trips so that all travel is during daylight hours.
the convoy plans have been finalized, disseminate this information to
those people who will be participating in the convoy.
Before departure all drivers should personally check oil, water, lights and tires on the vehicle that they are driving. The preferred order of march is to have the biggest vehicles in the lead progressing to the smallest. There are a number of reasons for this.
First of all, in the event of inattention or malfunction, a Jeep is unlikely to run over a CCKW, but the reverse is a real possibility. Secondly, the lead vehicles of a convoy tend to travel at a more constant speed than the following vehicles, and the smaller vehicles tend to be more nimble and hence better able to cope with this than the reverse. Similarly, the bigger vehicles tend to be the slowest (especially in hilly terrain), and thus set the pace of the convoy.
An exception to this policy involves visibility. The lead vehicle needs to have a good field of vision, thus, if, for example, the heaviest vehicle in the convoy is a Ferret, it would nevertheless be better for something else to lead due to the restricted driver visibility in the armor. It is preferable for all vehicles in the convoy to travel with the headlights on at all times as this helps the convoy leader to keep all units in sight. If possible, both the first and last vehicles should have an amber flashing warning light. These are a great aid in keeping the convoy together, as well as warning other motorists of the slow moving convoy.
Please maintain a safe distance between vehicles, remembering that due to their age and size the stopping distance of these vehicles is considerably greater than that of a modern passenger car.
addition to the risk of rear end collisions, it is easy to lose sight of
following vehicles if they follow too closely, making those ahead
believe that someone has fallen out of the convoy. Also, allow plenty of
extra space if it is raining or the road is wet.
The Non-Directional Cross Country tread tires have notoriously
poor traction on wet surfaces, and the spray thrown up by the leading
vehicles makes vision more difficult for those following.
We travel with the one-for-all-all-for-one theory. If anyone has a problem, they pull well off the road and stop, and the entire convoy will halt. For this reason it is important to maintain a constant vigil on the other vehicles in the convoy.
the event of an unplanned
to departure the designated convoy leader should meet with the other
drivers. At this time the
convoy speed should be confirmed. This
speed should be based upon road and traffic conditions, and as a rule be
the maximum safe cruising speed of the slowest vehicle in the convoy.
He should also find out what the maximum speed is for short
bursts. This is because
there are a few instances when it is necessary to travel faster than one
would generally want to. Examples
of this include when being forced to travel short stretches on an
Interstate highway, or when traveling on short stretches of road where
trailing vehicles have no safe passing areas.
each driver a position within the convoy, using the size/weight/vision
guidelines above, and make sure that all
that everyone has enough fuel to reach the destination, or at least the
first scheduled fuel stop. Make
sure all participants have signed insurance waivers, and that all
vehicles appear to be in good operating order.
It is best if all weapons are removed from vehicles, or stowed in
their canvas covers.
Dispatch any civilian vehicles and those people trailering their vehicles such that they can stay a few miles ahead of the military vehicle convoy. We have found that if they follow the military vehicles they tend to overtake them, and form an even longer motorcade that is difficult for the public to pass.
the military vehicles usually are well equipped with tools, chains,
etc., and in the event one of the civilian vehicles or towing vehicles
breaks down, the military vehicles will be along shortly to render
there will be more than about ten historic military vehicles in the
convoy, it is helpful to break the convoy into two or more elements a
few miles apart to prevent traffic congestion.
the convoy is underway, the leader should watch that all the vehicles
are moving together, as well as watch ahead for changing road and
traffic conditions. Anticipate
traffic lights so that a changing light does not split the convoy.
If the convoy is split, or if some of the vehicles seem to be
having trouble, alter the pace so that everyone can catch up.
If the need arises to pass another motorist, make sure that there
is enough room for the entire convoy to pass.
The driver of the
last vehicle in line should maintain a watch to the rear.
If he notices an extensive build up of traffic following the
convoy, he should direct the convoy to pull over at a safe place to let
the traffic around. Due to
the slack running in and out of the convoy, he will have to work harder
to keep his convoy position than any other
THE "ROCKING CHAIR"
addition to all the things one normally watches out for when driving an
automobile, those traveling in the middle of the convoy need to watch
the vehicles in front of them for trouble (smoking, open doors, dragging
equipment, flat tires, etc.). If any type of trouble is spotted,
pull over at a safe location, and the rest of the convoy will halt also. In addition, watch in your mirror for similar problems, and
also so that you may stop if someone behind you halts the convoy.
arrival at the destination, someone should direct each vehicle to his or
her display area. For
safety's sake, ground guides are most helpful.
guidelines have been developed to aid the efficiency and safety of our
convoys. We hope that more of you will become involved in the planning
and execution of our chapters many convoy's throughout the coming years.
In order to get the most enjoyment out of our trips, as well as to
ensure that they are smoothly executed, please volunteer and work
together as a team to make sure that these factors are taken into
consideration when a trip is planned.