Emergency Stop

Anticipation and good planning help you to avoid emergencies. The earlier you spot any possible danger, the sooner you can act on it.

When performing an emergency stop, the technique you should use depends on whether or not your car is fitted with ABS (Anti-lock Brake System). All modern cars do have ABS fitted.

Without ABS

With ABS

When braking harshly with ABS don't be put off by any noise or pulsating sensation you feel through the brake pedal, as this is a normal feature of ABS.

On Your Driving Test

If required to perform an emergency stop on your driving test, the examiner will first ask you to stop in a safe place where they will explain the procedure they use to initiate the emergency stop - a hand signal, usually banging the palm of their hand on the dashboard while clearly saying stop.

You will then drive away, and the emergency stop will commence a short time after. Be assured the emergency stop will be performed on a safe, quiet stretch of road, and the examiner will make sure no cars are following behind.

Unlike all other driving manoeuvres, you do not have to check your mirrors before making an emergency stop, as in real life there wouldn't be time to do so.

The examiner will be looking to see that you can stop your car safely and as quickly as possible. The three key elements are:

The clutch - you should press the clutch pedal down just before the car comes to a halt (to stop the engine from stalling). Press the pedal down too early, and you will be coasting, which reduces the control you have over the car.


A skid happens when you change direction or speed so suddenly that car tyres cannot keep their grip on the road. The sudden, abrupt nature of an emergency stop means that skidding is often a possibility. When performing an emergency stop on your driving test, if you skid and lose control of the car, you will fail the test. So, if you do feel the car start to skid.

This action is called cadence braking and should cancel out the skid and regain control.

Of course, most modern cars have ABS, which will help prevent your car from skidding. To check the car you are driving is fitted with ABS, look for this symbol on the dashboard when you turn on the ignition or ask your driving instructor.

For more on skidding and how to prevent your car skidding.

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