Emergency Stop

On your driving test the examiner will ask you to pull up on the left and then brief you on the emergency stop. He/she will say “Shortly I will be asking you to do the emergency stop as if a child had run out into the road, when I raise my right hand and say stop, you need to react as quickly as possible keeping the car under full control. You may see me look over my shoulder, please do not anticipate the stop until I raise my right hand.”



No time for mirrors – this increases your thinking time, which increases your overall braking distance. Quick reaction is needed.
Brake firmly and progressively – harder than normal but do not ‘Slam’ the brake pedal. An indication you have braked firm enough is you should feel a slight forward lurch in your seat.
Clutch down just before you stop – to avoid stalling. Avoid putting the clutch down straight away as this is coasting and will increase your overall stopping distance.
Keep both hands on the wheel – in a real life situation you would brace yourself for impact or try to change direction.
When stopped apply handbrake.


Ensure you look over both blind spots too. If there are any vehicles around you – wait to see if they pass, if not then apply a signal to let them know you are moving off.


If the back end of your car goes to the left then you steer into it. Be careful of over-steering as you could cause the skid to go the other direction.

If you brake too firmly in older vehicles (2000 or less usually) you may experience the wheels locking, which means you are skidding. To come out of the skid, you should release the pressure on the brake pedal and then re-apply. Repeat this so you are pumping the brake repeatedly and quickly.


In some cases, your care may have Anti-Locking Braking System (ABS). This detects when your wheels are about to lock and rapidly pumps the brake for you, which prevents you skidding and enables you to focus on steering the car better as you’re not having to multi-task in an emergency.


Below is a table taken from the Highway code of the typical stopping distances. Please remember in the rain overall stopping distance will double and in the ice and snow it can increase up to ten times.

2 second rule: On 40mph+ roads pick a landmark like a road sign. Once the car in front passes that sign count to 2 seconds slowly. If you get there before you finish counting then that’s an indication you’re following too close.

Common reasons for Failing the Emergency Stop


When the examiner raises his/her right hand and says “STOP” you are expected to react as quickly as possible. If you’re taking 1-2 seconds more than you should to respond and press the break pedal, this could result in stopping too late and ultimately you could fail your test.


You MUST press the brake firm and hard but not stamp on the pedal. As you press the brake pedal, gradually increase the pressure. As an indication you have braked firmly enough the seat belt should lock.


When the pedal has been stamped on, the car can skid, if you feel the car skidding you will need to apply cadence braking. If you have ABS braking (Anti-Locking Braking system) then this will assist you. If the back end of your car slides out, you will need to turn into the skid. This should not happen on your driving test really as the examiner will only ask you to do this on a straight road in good weather conditions.


Taking your hands off the wheel whilst the car is moving at high speeds will almost certainly result in a fail and in real life could be the difference between you staying on the road or not hitting the person in the road. You shouldn’t try to apply the handbrake whilst the car is in motion and changing gear is unnecessary as you are stopping.


Using the parking brake before the car has stopped. The parking brake (handbrake) locks the two back wheels. if you pull this up whilst moving the car may go into a skid. Only use the handbrake once stopped.


Lack of observations or no observations before moving off. It’s vital you look all around after an emergency stop. It’s known as a 360 degree observation or a 6 point check. If there is anyone around you or about to pass you, then make sure you’re not effecting them as you move off. If you haven’t seen them and move off this will result in a fail if that hazard is near enough to you.


Signalling if it benefits another road user. There may be a car 150 metres away; make sure you put a signal on in case they decide to build up speed. By putting a signal on you are letting that road user know your intentions.