How to Do an Emergency Stop Safely

by EzLicence Last updated


When you’re driving and suddenly need to stop, knowing how to perform an emergency stop safely and effectively can be a lifesaver. There’s also a one in three chance of it appearing on your driving test. So you’ll need to know how to do an emergency stop to impress the examiner. Read on and we’ll show you how to do it so that you’ll pass with ease. 

What is an Emergency Stop?

An emergency stop is a quick, controlled method to stop your vehicle when you encounter sudden hazards. The goal is to prevent your car from skidding while making sure you stop as quickly as possible. You’re not just slamming on the brakes but strategically stopping to avoid a potential accident. It’s a driving skill that combines quick reflexes with precise braking. 

This isn’t just about avoiding bumps, it can be a lifesaver, literally. That’s why you need to practice this technique. Proper training ensures you’re ready to handle unexpected dangers effectively to keep both you and others on the road safe.

How to Do an Emergency Stop

To perform an emergency stop you must first keep both hands on the steering wheel to control the car. Next, you’ll need to squeeze the brake pedal firmly. Most modern vehicles are equipped with ABS so you can also press the clutch pedal to avoid stalling. Once you’re stopped, immediately apply the handbrake to make sure your car remains stationary.

If your vehicle is older and doesn’t have ABS, you must wait until the last moment before stopping to press the clutch. This will help you to avoid coasting the car. It can also help to do something called cadence breaking, where you pump the brake pedal to avoid skidding. 

How to Do It on Your Driving Test

During your driving test, there’s a chance that you will be asked to perform an emergency stop. There are a few things that you need to get right to impress the examiner. Here’s how it will happen. 

Listen to the Examiner

The examiner will give you a prior warning that the emergency stop will be taking place on your exam. Usually, they will ask you to pull to the side of the road and stop the car. Here they will explain that once you start driving they will give you a command to perform an emergency stop. 

Remember that it’s the examiner's job to make sure that the emergency stop is performed in a safe place. When you return to the road get the car back up to the speed limit and wait for their signal. The examiner will raise their hand so the signal will be “stop” and their hand will drop. 

How to Perform an Emergency Stop

When the examiner signals, it’s important to act quickly. Keep both hands on the steering wheel. Press the clutch down all the way and then apply the brakes firmly to bring the car to a stop as promptly as possible. It’s essential to maintain full control and avoid skidding.

Once you’ve stopped, immediately apply the handbrake to secure the car. Throughout this manoeuver, remain calm and composed, ensuring that you handle the situation with safety as your top priority. This controlled response demonstrates your ability to manage unexpected situations effectively during your test.

Safely Pull Away

Not moving off safely is one of the top ten reasons why people fail their driving test. To get it right, remember to check traffic conditions all around your vehicle before pulling away. You’ll need to look over both shoulders and use all your mirrors to verify no other road users are too close.

After confirming it’s clear, you can safely release the parking brake and prepare to move. Shift into the appropriate gear, usually first in a manual transmission car. Before you accelerate, take another quick glance around, especially in your blind spots. Ease onto the accelerator gently and merge back into traffic smoothly. 

Will the Emergency Stop Be on My Driving Test?

There’s a 1-in-3 chance that the emergency stop will be on your driving test. Which manoeuvre you have to do will be revealed during the driving exam. You will be asked to stop at the side of the road where the examiner will explain what manoeuver you are expected to do. 

What’s the Examiner Looking For?

The examiner is looking for you to show you can handle the situation quickly and safely, maintaining complete control of your vehicle. The examiner observes how effectively you use the clutch and brake. They also want your hands to remain steady on the wheel at the ten and two positions. 

After you’ve done an emergency break, don’t forget the examiner is also watching how you observe your surroundings before moving off again. This step is important to show you’re stopping effectively and preparing to continue driving safely. Make sure your actions demonstrate awareness and readiness to proceed.

How to Deal with Common Problems

When preparing for your driving test there are probably a million thoughts running through your head. The best advice we can give you is to practice and try to calm your nerves. To help with the nerves, here are some common questions we see from learner drivers. 

What happens if I stall?

If your car stalls during an emergency stop, simply restart the engine by turning the key and engaging the clutch. It’s important not to panic. Staying calm helps you focus and smoothly handle the situation. Remember, stalling doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve failed your driving test.

What’s more important is how you manage to restart your car. To prepare, practice restarting your engine efficiently. This practice ensures you can handle stalling without stress during your test or in real-life driving scenarios.

How do I avoid skidding?

Performing a controlled stop on your exam is going to be done at low speeds. This minimises the chances of skidding so there’s less to worry about. However, it’s an important question in case you ever need to stop at higher speeds. 

If your car has ABS brakes, you’re in luck—these systems prevent the wheels from locking by modulating brake pressure rapidly. This allows you to maintain steering control while braking hard. For cars without ABS, you’ll need to master the cadence braking technique. This involves pumping the brake pedal quickly and gently to avoid the wheels locking, helping you keep control.

How to emergency stop in bad weather?

In challenging weather conditions, you should always decrease your speed and increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front to guarantee safety.

Turn on your headlights and windshield wipers to enhance visibility when it’s raining, foggy, or snowing. Be extra cautious of black ice, especially under freezing conditions as it’s tricky to spot and can cause your vehicle to skid unexpectedly. Gentle steering and braking are what’s needed to maintain control.

When Will it Be Used in Real Life?

Think about a pet darting out or a car abruptly stopping ahead of you. These situations also demand a quick, controlled response. Properly executing an emergency stop can save lives and prevent serious injuries. 

Always drive within speed limits and stay alert to potential hazards. This way, you’ll reduce the need for emergency stops but still be prepared to carry out an emergency stop effectively when required.

Want to Improve Your Driving Skills?

Getting some driving lessons from an experienced teacher will brush up your driving skills and increase your chances of passing. EzLicence allows you to do just that. Search through accredited instructors in your area and book a time that suits you. Find a driving instructor and get started today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Put the Clutch Down for Emergency Stop?

Yes, you should press the clutch down during an emergency stop to prevent the engine from stalling. 

Can You Fail the Driving Test for Emergency Stop?

Yes, you can fail your driving test for improperly executing an emergency stop. You’ll fail if you lose control of the car or do something unsafe. 

How is the emergency stop different from normal braking?

An emergency stop requires you to apply the brakes fully and forcefully without prior gradual slowing like normal braking. This is to minimise the stop distance as much as possible in response to an immediate hazard.

How do ABS brakes affect an emergency stop?

ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) prevents the wheels from locking up during an emergency stop, allowing you to maintain steering control. If your vehicle is equipped with ABS, press the brake pedal hard and the system will pulse the brakes to prevent skidding.

How should I practice emergency stops?

Practicing emergency stops should be done in a safe, controlled environment such as an empty parking lot. Work with a professional driving instructor who can provide immediate feedback and guidance to perfect the technique safely.

About the author


EzLicence takes the hassle out of choosing a driving school by helping learner drivers find, compare and book accredited driving instructors online.

The EzLicence online platform brings transparency, choice and efficiency to booking and managing driving instructors and driving lessons in London and the UK.

Find a driving instructor

Including availability, pricing & bookings

Popular Articles