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Motorcade transporting U.S. President George W. Bush in Charlotte, North Carolina

A motorcade, or autocade, is a procession of motor vehicles. Uses can include ceremonial processions for funerals or demonstrations, but can also be used to provide security while transporting a very important person. The American presidential motorcade is an example of both and is a staple of public appearances by the president of the United States.


The term motorcade was coined by Lyle Abbot (in 1912 or 1913 when he was automobile editor of the Arizona Republican), and is formed after cavalcade, playing off of the last syllable in that word. The original suffix in cavalcade is actually "-ade", and there is no "-cade" in either French or Latin. -cade has since become a productive suffix in English, leading to the alternative names carcade, autocade, and even Hoovercade (after J. Edgar Hoover) as a suffix meaning "procession". Eric Partridge called the name a "monstrosity", and Lancelot Hogben considered the word to be a "counterfeit coinage". [1][2][3]

Uses of motorcades[edit]


Funeral motorcade for Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C.

A funeral cortege is a procession of mourners, most often in a motorcade of vehicles following a hearse.[4]

Protests and demonstrations[edit]

Motorcades can be used as protests and demonstrations.[5] A large, organised, group of vehicles will travel a busy route at very slow speed in order to deliberately cause traffic disruption. This is a tactic most often associated with protest groups that have access to many large vehicles, such as truckers and farmers. An example is the 2005 UK protests against fuel prices.[6] As part of the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in November 2013—February 2014, the sub-movement that made use of car processions as the means of protest was called the Automaidan.

Russian people and their advocates support the 2022 Russian invasion organising motorcades in Germany,[7] Serbia[8] and Greece.[9]


Motorcade transporting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang, North Korea

Motorcades can be used to transport a very important person, usually a political figure. Such a procession consists of several vehicles, usually accompanied by law enforcement support and additional protection to ensure the safety of the people in the motorcade. Motorcades for heads of government and heads of state can consist of dozens of vehicles, those being armoured cars, SUVs, and police motorcycles and cars leading the way and following.

Traffic diversions[edit]

Depending on the size of the motorcade and who it is carrying, routes may be completely blockaded from the general public. For security, this often occurs for motorcades for heads of state or government.

President of the United States[edit]

The motorcade for the President of the United States comprises forty to fifty vehicles; in addition to the president, the motorcade may carry his or her spouse or children, members of the press, security, White House officials, and VIP guests. The major members travel in armored vehicles, typically specially configured limousines. The motorcade contains several armored vehicles, a USSS Electronic Countermeasures Suburban, a counter-assault team, and Secret Service agents. When called for, a hazardous materials team precedes the motorcade on alert for potential hazards.

A police presence precedes the beginning of the presidential motorcade. These cars and motorcycles always drive ahead to clear the way and block traffic and also are in constant communication with the secret service.[10]

The motorcade for the president is made up of two parts, the first being the "secure package".[11] In the event of an emergency, the secure package separates from the rest of the group.[11] It includes two limousines heavily guarded by local law enforcement and Secret Service, with all cars driven by professional drivers.[11]

The second part is made up of vans that transport White House staff members and selected members of the press. In the rear is the WHCA Roadrunner special communications van – which provides the primary communications path via satellite, allowing bi-directional voice, data and streaming video– an ambulance, and additional police vehicles.[11]

Motorcade routes are coordinated and selected by Secret Service agents in cooperation with local police forces or US military in war-torn countries, For example when the president visited troops in Afghanistan, US military troops provided security to the motorcade. Escape routes are also established in the event of an emergency.[11]

President of South Korea[edit]

The motorcade for the President of South Korea comprises twenty to thirty vehicles; in addition to the president, the motorcade may carry his or her spouse, members of the press, security, Blue House officials, VIP guests, family, friends and cabinet members. High ranking cabinet members travel in armored vehicles, typically specially configured limousines or armored Cadillac Escalades. The motorcade contains several armored vehicles of different car brands, there is a counter-assault team, Presidential Security Service agents, medical teams, police escorts from the Korean National Police Agency and other unknown unmarked vehicles.

The police escort usually precedes the Presidential motorcade to clear the way, block traffic and shut down the streets for the motorcade.

The motorcade is divided into two different parts, the first half being the part of the motorcade carrying the president and his or her spouse the second half carrying Blue House staff, more security and the press.

Many people most notably saw the Korean presidential motorcade during the first Inter-Korean summit at the DMZ on the Korean border, where the leaders of the two Koreas met for the first time.[12]

The routes for the motorcade are selected by the Presidential Security Service agents with cooperation with local police forces. There is always an emergency route set in case of any emergencies before the President goes anywhere.

Gallery of motorcades[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Valerie Adams (1973). Introduction to Modern English Word-formation. Longman. pp. 188–189.
  2. ^ John Ayto (2006). "motorcade". Movers and Shakers: A Chronology of Words that Shaped Our Age. Movers and Shakers. Oxford University Press US. pp. 45. ISBN 9780198614524.
  3. ^ Henry Louis Mencken; Raven Ioor McDavid & David A. Maurer (1963). American Language: An Inquiry Into the Development of English in the United States. Knopf. p. 222.
  4. ^ Gove, Philip B (1984). Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms. Merriam-Webster. p. 640.
  5. ^ Doug Bound (1994). "Nonviolent Direct Action and the Diffusion of Power". In Paul Ernest Wehr; Paul Wehr; Heidi Burgess; Guy M. Burgess (eds.). Justice Without Violence. Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN 1-55587-465-7.
  6. ^ Morris, Steven (2005-09-17). "Fuel protesters defy police as convoy crawl jams motorway". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  7. ^ Empörung über pro-russischen Autokorso durch Berlin
  8. ^ Pro-Russian Right-Wing Serbs Hold Another Demonstration In Belgrade
  9. ^ Ukraine’s Embassy in Greece Condemns Pro-Russia Rally in Athens
  10. ^ Beam, Christopher (November 29, 2006). "What's in a presidential motorcade?". Slate.com. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
  11. ^ a b c d e Selingo, Jefferey (September 26, 2003). "Driving; Fed Up With Traffic? Get Behind the Wheel in a Motorcade". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
  12. ^ "Kim Jong Un walks south to meet his rival: Can they deal?". 26 April 2018.

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