While driving your car, you may be prompted to apply an emergency brake, and no one ever plans to do an emergency brake. Typically, an excellent driver will not need to carry out an emergency stop as they will be vigilant and anticipate potential danger that may develop around them, so hard braking becomes unnecessary.

Nonetheless, emergencies happen, and even the most careful drivers may have to apply emergency brakes at some point. When an emergency happens, you must be able to stop quickly, safely, and under control, without the risk of skidding when performing an emergency stop.

How to Carry Out an Emergency Brakes Stop and ABS Brakes

ABS brakes help to stop the wheels from locking up and causing a skid. Cars often come with ABS brakes as standard. However, older vehicles have to use a slightly different method of braking, called Cadence Braking. This requires you to pump the brake to prevent the wheels from locking up.

ABS is a computerized sensor system that detects when the brakes are about to lock up, momentarily releasing them before automatically reapplying them many times a second until the car stops. The system only activates in harsh braking situations and does not necessarily shorten stopping distances.

ABS allows you to steer, which you cannot do when the wheels are locked. ABS is not a cure-all, however! It cannot overcome bad driving techniques and mistakes, problems of poor contact with the road due to badly worn springs, surface water, loose road surfaces, badly worn tires, or driving too fast for the road, traffic, and weather conditions. ABS adds to your skills but does not replace them.

Nevertheless, when applying an emergency brake, you must not use the parking brake to help you stop. It works only on the rear wheels and can lead to skidding if applied incorrectly.

How to Complete the emergency stop on the Practical Driving Test

You may be asked to complete an emergency stop on your practical driving test. If so, your driving examiner will raise their hand to simulate an emergency and call out STOP.

Follow these steps below to ensure you stop safely:

  • When completing the emergency stop maneuvers on the driving test, there is no time to look in the mirrors. A good driver will keep a lookout and get regular updates on what’s behind.
  • Do not signal, you need both hands on the steering wheel for maximum control. Your seatbelt should keep you in your seat, and your hands on the wheel will help to brace you.
  • Squeeze the brake pedal firmly and fully to stop the vehicle as quickly and safely as possible. Using the clutch to stop the engine from stalling or cutting out is preferable. This will save time in a real emergency situation if you have to move on quickly.
  • Once you have come to a stop during your emergency stop maneuver, and if there is no more danger, apply the handbrake and select neutral. The examiner might say, “thank you, I won’t be asking you to do that again, drive on when you are ready.” If the engine has stalled, restart it and continue.
  • Suppose you stopped in the middle of the street before you moved off again. Take a good look around using all the mirrors and windows, and check both left and right-hand blind spots, ensuring no bicycles or other road users are passing you.

In case of a real road accident, there may be dazed, hurt or frightened people, so always take great care when moving off. To improve your skills further and gain experience behind the wheel for emergencies, consider taking defensive driving courses.