Emergency Stop

After a few minutes of driving, the examiner said, “Would you pull up along here on the left, please?” There was a long stretch of clear kerb so I just pulled up at the side of the road, being careful not to bang the kerb. Just before I stopped I put the clutch down so as not to stall the engine. I had been told it was not necessary to use the gears if I knew I was going to stop.

Since May 4th 1999, the emergency stop is included in only one in every three tests. Its only reason for inclusion being to ensure it is still being taught.

Listen to the instructions, which will be given to you whilst parked at the side of the road.

“Shortly, I shall ask you to carry out an emergency stop” He raised his right arm, outstretched his hand, and said loudly, “STOP”, and went on, “When I give this signal, I’d like you to stop as quickly and as safely as possible. Before giving the signal I shall look round to see if it is safe, but please wait for the signal before doing the exercise, do you understand the instructions?”. Then, “Drive on when you’re ready, please”.

When you get the previously demonstrated signal, and not before, unless a real emergency happens, just do a rapid, controlled stop, wherever you are. Don’t try to use “Cadence” braking (banging the pedal up and down). It is incredibly difficult to do properly, and should be used only where the road is extremely slippery, not just wet. You will take much longer to stop, and it can also be quite dangerous for the examiner’s back!

We drove on for a couple of minutes. The examiner looked round and saw the car I already knew was behind, from my use of the mirrors. I almost involuntarily went for the pedals. Wait for it, I thought! He looked round again, then suddenly –


No need to look in mirrors, the examiner has looked round to see if it is safe, which is why you must wait for the signal. Keep both hands on the wheel until you have stopped.

Do not “stand on the brakes” or try to lock the wheels, however see comment re: ABS that follows. Ultra rapid reactions is not what is being looked for, just a controlled rapid stop, done without delay. A point about ABS, if your car is fitted with this, correct procedure is to put both clutch and brake pedals down together and harshly, otherwise the ABS will not work properly. The examiner will not mark you down for this. For those interested, see the various references to this in the DSA book “Driving, the Essential Skills”, and the DT1 document (Examiners’ “Bible” chapter 1) on the DSA web site (DSA), navigate via publications then DT1 at the bottom.

I brought the car to a halt as quickly as I could. There was a slight squeal from the front wheels so I eased off the foot brake ever so slightly, my car is not fitted with ABS. It went quite well really.

Then, and only then, you can put the handbrake on if you want, or if you think it is needed to control the vehicle, like on a hill, don’t put it on until you have stopped.

The examiner will, however, without much delay, ask you to drive on when you are ready. Don’t forget rear observation when you get moving again, use mirrors and look behind you.

“Thank you, drive on when you’re ready, I won’t ask you to do that exercise again”. The last bit is said to avoid you doing another unwanted one later, due to any misunderstanding. He seemed to make some sort of mark on his sheet. I had been told not to be upset by this, it was probably nothing serious.