A-Class Driving School's Online Driving Tutorial -
Emergency Stop

This is often refereed to as an emergency stop, however, I find that this paints the wrong image in students minds, causing them to hammer the brake, which could lead to skidding and ultimately fail you come test day. Think more controlled. A short sudden stop is expected from you, the seat belts should lock, but the car remains under control and should not skid and the ABS should not activate.

Usually when we reduce our speed we should try and get a mirror check completed, but because this is (supposed to be) an emergency it's far more important to stop the car. So the first thing you have to do is firmly press down on the footbrake, all the way to the floor and keep it there. If you feel a strange pulsing sensation under your braking foot, don't panic, it's just the ABS activating. Stay with it, let the computer and ABS do it's thing.

Both hands need to firmly grip the wheel and keep the car in a straight line.

A fraction of a second later, you need to depress the clutch all the way to the floor. This will help with engine braking and will also stop the car from stalling. Both feet must remain still.

Once the car has stopped, handbrake, neutral and relax your feet. Your heart might be beating quickly, so give yourself a second or two to gather your thoughts.

The car is now in, potentially, in a strange position for other road users approaching from behind, so before we move off there are a few things you need to do.

Prepare the car first, so into first gear. Then complete a 360 degree observation around the car, starting with a look over your left shoulder finishing with your blind spot. Act sensibly on what you see. As you're moving away, have a check on your mirrors in-case something happened to be in a blind spot created by the pillars on the car.


You may be surprised to hear that the main cause of skidding is due to drivers error; speed too fast, incorrect driving position, incorrect amounts of turn with the steering wheel.

Because the main cause of skidding is down to human error, it's important to remain the correct distance behind the car in front. Remember, "only a fool brakes the two second rule".

Look at the braking distance chart opposite. At 70mph your overall stopping distance isn't too far off 100m! When was the last time you saw a car on the motorway keeping 100 meters away from the car in front? In the wet, it's double that and in ice it's 10 times that, 1 kilometre!

The second cause is a faulty vehicle; brakes not working, car veering to one side, bald tyres/excessive wear on outside of tyres. You should check your tyre pressure at least once a week, or bare minimum have a look to see if your cars tyres look ok (give them a poke with your feet).

The third cause is road surface issues; wet, muddy or icy. Most modern cars these days are all equipped with ABS (anti brake systems), which allow you to turn the wheel and the wheels on the floor whilst skidding, which is very handy. If your car ever goes into a skid, come off the gas, brake and turn into the skid. This means if the rear of the car moves to the right, you turn the wheel to the right - but not too much!

What ever turn you put on, you must be able to take off again, and this is where people become unstuck. Cars are also fitted with things like traction control which makes skidding even more difficult. Onboard computers sense which wheel needs to move slower, enabling you to get the car straighter, quicker. Check your drivers manual in your own car to see what you have onboard.

emergency stop

The procedure for the emergency stop

Warning signs regarding skidding

skidding sign
loose chippings

Chart to show drivers thinking and braking distances at different speeds

braking distance chart