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How to

Using Emergency Stops

Some drivers will need to make an emergency stop at some point whilst behind the wheel, but it's far better if you never need to make one! An emergency stop is used to come to a halt quickly when the usual braking methods (apply gentle pressure to the brakes well before you need to come to a stop) will not allow you to stop in time to avoid an accident. As the name suggests, this manoeuvre should only be performed in an absolute emergency (for example, if a pedestrian steps into the road ahead of you or you encounter something in the road that requires you to stop as soon as possible).

What is Involved in an Emergency Stop?

An emergency stop should achieve several things:

  • Stopping the vehicle as quickly as possible without posing a danger to other road users
  • Stopping the vehicle whilst maintaining complete control of it (for example, successfully avoiding locking the wheels during the stop)

To execute an emergency stop, take your foot off the accelerator and press down on the brake in short, firm movements until the wheels feel as though they will lock up shortly. This is known as progressive braking. At this point, you should keep your foot on the brake, but do not apply any extra pressure (the idea is to maintain the pressure that you have already applied, without adding any more) as the stopping motion should now be in action. During an emergency stop, the vehicle will usually come to a fairly abrupt stop (unlike normal stopping and braking procedures). As the vehicle begins to slow down, gradually decrease the pressure on the brake. Keep your hands on the steering wheel throughout the procedure to keep the vehicle in a straight line, and be prepared to correct your steering if the wheels seem close to locking up.

When the vehicle comes to a full stop, both the brakes and clutch should be depressed. Apply the handbrake and switch the gear level to neutral.



Skids usually happen because you are applying too much pressure to the brake for the road conditions to handle. This causes the wheels to lock up. If the wheels do lock during the emergency stop and you start to skid, you should reduce the pressure on the brake but do not take your foot off altogether. When the skidding stops, re-apply the pressure again.

If your vehicle is fitted with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), this will not allow your vehicle to skid.

Most drivers hope that they never have to perform an emergency stop, as it usually means that he or she is involved in a situation that is highly dangerous, and that they probably have little control over (other than stopping the car as safely as possible in the given situation). If you do find yourself having to execute an emergency stop, try to do so as safely as you can, so as not to pose a danger to other road users.


Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated March 2016.