Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Emergency Stop

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to stop a car quickly and under control, as if in an emergency.

You will also learn how to prevent having to perform emergency stops in your everyday driving by:

  • using good observations
  • forward planning


In normal driving, a good driver shouldn’t need to brake really hard. Good drivers look and plan well ahead, and drive at appropriate speeds for the road surface and weather conditions.

It is not possible to plan for all situations though, so it’s important to be able to stop the car quickly and under good control.

A quick reaction is crucial in an emergency.

The sooner you start braking, the sooner you’ll stop!

You may be asked to perform an emergency stop during your practical driving test.


Your instructor or the examiner will:

  • Ask you to pull up in a safe place
  • Explain to you that they want you to perform the emergency stop exercise
  • Ask you to drive on when it’s safe
  • Identify a safe time for you to stop the car, s/he will check mirrors and out of the rear window before asking you to stop
  • Raise their right hand and say, “STOP” in a firm tone of voice

You will:

  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel
  • DO NOT check mirrors first
  • Press the brake pedal firmly but progressively. Avoid braking so hard that you lock the wheels and skid
  • Just before the car stops press the clutch pedal. Avoid pressing the clutch until just before you stop to help with braking and stability
  • Once the car has fully stopped apply the handbrake and select neutral

To move away safely you will use the POM routine (Prepare, Observe, Move):

  • Prepare the car to move away
  • Check all around the car. You MUST check both blind spots!
  • Move away when it’s safe


To avoid having to stop in an emergency you should look well ahead and plan to drive appropriately.

Look for clues, such as reflections in cars or windows. Plan to change your speed if you are approaching playgrounds, schools etc. Think about school times!

Always drive at a speed in which you can stop in the distance you can see to be clear.


Many accidents are caused by drivers getting too close to the car in front of them.

When driving in dry conditions, at over 40 mph, you should keep a TWO SECOND GAP

To measure a two second gap:

  • Wait for the car in front to pass a stationary object
  • As it passes the object, say the words, ‘Only a Fool, Breaks the Two Second Rule’
  • If you have reached the stationary object before you finish saying it, you are less than two seconds behind
  • If you have not reached the stationary object before you finish saying it, you are more than two seconds behind

  • On wet roads, the stopping distance will be doubled to four seconds
  • On very slippery or icy roads the stopping distance can be as much as 10 times longer than on a dry road


There are three things that cause skidding:

  • The driver
  • The vehicle
  • The road conditions

Skids don’t just happen. They are caused by a driver asking too much of a vehicle. The risk of skidding is increased when:

  • Slowing down rapidly
  • Speeding up rapidly
  • Steering sharply

Dealing with Skids

If your car is skidding you can:

  • Ease off the gas
  • Turn the steering wheel in the same direction as the skid
  • Be careful not to steer too sharply

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