What is the ‘emergency stop’ and why do I need to learn it
The emergency stop procedure was introduced into UK driving tests in 1999 as a way of preparing learner drivers for an emergency whilst driving such as a child running out into the middle of the road. When it comes to the driving test itself, the emergency stop is not considered as 1 of the 4 manoeuvres, instead it is a separate aspect of the test that you have a 1 in 3 chance of having to do. The procedure itself will involve the examiner parking you up and telling you that they would like you to perform an emergency stop, (or a controlled stop as it is sometimes called), you will then need to drive on as normal and when instructed, stop the vehicle in a safe and controlled manner as if you are in an emergency.
When will I have to perform the emergency stop?
As mentioned earlier, you have a 1 in 3 chance of being asked to do the emergency stop during your driving test. Your driving test examiner has a duty to make sure it is safe for you to perform the emergency stop, this is paramount due to the fact that you will be bringing your car to a sudden stop without any warning for other road users. The emergency stop procedure can be done at any time during the driving test but it is hardly ever within the first 10 minutes, you will be given plenty of warning if you need to do the emergency stop during your test.
What will the examiner be looking for with the emergency stop?
The examiner will be looking at a few things when you perform the emergency stop procedure, the most important being whether you have the ability to bring your vehicle to a safe and controlled stop as if you are in an emergency. This will require careful use of the foot pedals because simply slamming on the brakes will result in a skid which leaves you out of control of your vehicle. The examiner will also be marking your ability to drive on safely after the emergency stop, you’ll need to make effective observations before you drive on.
How to correctly perform the emergency stop
Lets get into driving test mode. During the 29th minute of your driving test, your driving test examiner has asked you to pull up on the left which you have now done. You are then told something similar to:
“In a moment I am going to ask you to perform an emergency stop, I would like you to drive on and stop the car in a safe and controlled manner as if in an emergency. I will give you a signal when I want you to stop and I will make sure it is safe to do so. Drive on when you are ready”
The signal you will be given will be both visual and audible, your examiner will hold out their hand and at the same time say ‘stop’ in a firm voice. The road you will be on will usually be quiet because performing an emergency stop on a main road wouldn’t be a clever idea. The moments leading up to the emergency stop can be slightly nerve-racking because you know what is about to come without knowing when exactly it is coming, just drive on as you normally would and wait for the signal. You will know when the signal is about to come because you examiner will turn their head to look behind them for a final check to make sure it is all clear. The following describes what you need to do to perform the emergency stop successfully.
- When you drive on after being parked up and told that you will be performing the emergency stop, make sure you take effective observations before moving off. Check out our
moving off & stopping tutorial for more details on this.
- When your examiner gives you the signal to ‘stop’, your right foot needs to instantly move from the gas pedal to the brake pedal and press it down progressively and firmly.
Dont slam the brake pedal down because this will probably result in a skid or the ABS locking up.
- Just before the car is about to come to stop you need to depress the clutch pedal so that the car doesn’t stall. Don’t depress the clutch at the same time as the brake because this will result in a slower, more smoother stop and you don’t want that for this situation. Braking without the clutch will use the engine braking and bring the car to a quicker stop.
- You need to keep your car straight whilst stopping so keep your hands on the steering wheel and strengthen your grip on the wheel to stop the car from swerving until it comes to a stop.
- Once the car has stopped, you need to check the mirrors instantly whilst applying the handbrake and selecting neutral.
- When the examiner tells you to drive on, make sure you do your 6 point check! This is where many people fail their emergency stop, it is important to check all around because you will be in the middle of the road so you need to see if it is clear. More information on the 6 point check can be found in the
moving off & stopping tutorial.
We know the description of what to do with the pedals to stop successfully might seem slightly confusing, so the following video showing what to do with the pedals in real time when being asked to stop will help you.
The following video will show how the vehicle should stop when viewing the vehicle from outside. Note how the vehicle stops in a controlled manner without the need to slam on the brakes.
Checking the mirrors after stopping might seem a bit odd but you should remember that in an emergency you won’t have the time to check your mirrors because every second will count. This is why you need to stop the vehicle and then check the mirrors as you secure the vehicle to see what is around you, remember that your examiner will make sure it is safe for you to perform the emergency stop procedure before asking you to stop. Practise makes perfect, especially when it comes to the emergency stop so make sure you have attempted it plenty of times, we at Fineline Driving Academy always make sure our learners have practised the emergency stop a number of times before they take their test.
Useful points to remember when carrying out the emergency stop
- When you are given the signal to stop, don’t slam on the brake pedal because this will result in the vehicle coming to an uncontrolled stop, a skid might also result if your vehicle isn’t fitted with ABS. Watch the video in this tutorial to see how you should shift your right foot from the gas to the brake pedal to stop the vehicle in a controlled manner.
- If you feel the wheels begin to lock up (you’ll know the ABS is in action if you feel the brake pedal crunching and pressing back up towards your foot), release the brake slightly and then apply it again.
- Make sure your hands are firmly kept on the steering wheel when you perform the emergency stop, this will prevent swerving of the car and keep it straight.
- Only put the clutch down just before the car comes to a stop, this will help the vehicle come to a more sudden stop.
- Remember that if the road is wet, the chances of skidding are higher so you should brake slightly less firmly in these road conditions.
- Make sure that you check your mirrors and secure the vehicle as soon as the vehicle comes to a complete stop.
- Before moving off, do your 6 point check to see if your surroundings are clear.
- Don’t intentionally drive slowly whilst anticipating the stop signal from your examiner, your examiner will probably tell you to drive normally and they will delay the stop signal. The road that the examiner will choose will not have a higher speed limit than 30mph, so you should be around this speed when the stop signal is given. You should however avoid harsh acceleration to get up to this speed.
FINELINES guide to dealing with the emergency stop
Heres our trademark end of tutorial guide where we go over everything you should have learned from this page. Remember that you have a 1 in 3 chance of performing this manoeuvre so practise it many times, don’t be afraid to ask your instructor if you can try it a few more times before the test to ensure you are comfortable with it. The emergency stop itself isn’t difficult, but it is very easy to screw it up so read this tutorial carefully and take a look at the videos to see exactly how to successfully carry it out.
- After your examiner has told you that they would like you to perform the emergency stop when they signal you to do so, you should drive on as normal.
- The examiner will look behind them before they signal for you to stop. The signal will be their hand shown just under the rear view mirror and they will also say ‘stop’ in a firm and loud voice.
- When you hear the stop signal, you should firmly and progressively depress the brake pedal and depress the clutch just the before the car comes to a stop. Keep your hands on the wheel and keep the vehicle straight.
- Once the car has come to a stop, apply the handbrake and select neutral. Check your mirrors whilst securing the car.
- The examiner will now say something similar to ‘drive on when you are ready, I will not ask you to do that again’. When you hear this, select 1st gear and don’t forget your 6 point check to make sure all if clear. Check out the moving off & stopping for more information on this.