Driving Test Manoeuvres – the Emergency Stop

Driving Test Manoeuvres

As part of the driving test, every learner could be asked to perform one of any number of manoeuvres, all of which they should have practiced extensively during their lessons.

The emergency stop is an extremely common manoeuvre that an examiner may ask the driver to demonstrate; the statistics suggest that it’s included in at least a third of all driving tests.

Performing the emergency stop isn’t just a matter of stopping as quickly as possible; there are a number of very specific criteria the examiner will be looking for when the manoeuvre is performed.

Here’s a closer look at the emergency stop and how to execute it flawlessly.

What the examiner wants to see

Although an emergency stop is a manoeuvre which would normally only be performed when there is an urgent need to stop, the examiner will ask a driver to carry it out as part of the test as they need to see it can be conducted in a safe manner.

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Despite the overriding need to stop as quickly as possible, there’s other factors which must be considered too, such as the ability to prevent the car skidding or locking the wheels. If either of those occurs when performing an emergency stop, other road users could be put at risk. This is why it’s so important for an examiner to check that a new driver is able to perform this particular manoeuvre.

Very specifically, a driving examiner will be looking for the following:

  • the vehicle to be stop quickly following their command
  • the vehicle to travel the shortest possible distance
  • no locking of the wheels
  • no skidding
  • stopping the vehicle without endangering other road users
  • the ability to move off again safely

In order to pass the emergency stop manoeuvre, all of the above must be demonstrated during the test.

The instructions

Before being asked to carry out the manoeuvre, the driving examiner will ask the driver to pull over to the side of the road and will explain what they are about to do. They’re not out to trick drivers, that wouldn’t be helpful to anyone, so you need not worry about the manoeuvre suddenly being sprung on you without warning!

The examiner will explain the manoeuvre and what he wants you to do, and will explain how he will communicate this to you, typically either striking the dashboard or by raising their right hand.

The examiner will check that the road conditions are safe for you to perform an emergency stop before asking you to do so; you don’t need to worry about endangering other road users by suddenly stopping.

It may take some time for the examiner to find the right stretch of road for you to perform an emergency stop. In addition for it being safe for the manoeuvre to be performed, the examiner needs to ensure you are travelling fast enough for it to be a proper test (normally 30mph).

The instructor will check it’s safe for you to stop before giving the command. You may see them do this and realise what’s about to happen but don’t pre-empt the instruction; make sure you wait for them to give the emergency stop command before hitting the brakes.

Performing the emergency stop

Once the examiner gives the command for the emergency stop, you need to stop the vehicle from moving as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence but you still need to take care to remain in control of the car at all times.

Immediately take your foot off the accelerator and press firmly and quickly on the brake pedal. Press just hard enough that your car stops, but just shy of locking the wheels. Don’t be tempted to slam your foot down as hard as you can; this is likely to send you into a skid or to lock your wheels. If this does happen, release the brake pedal and then gently reapply it.

Make sure you keep your hands on the steering wheel throughout the manoeuvre and keep the car straight.

Just as the car is about to come to a halt, press down on the clutch pedal; this will prevent it from stalling. Once you are stationary, keep your left foot on the clutch and your right foot on the brake and then apply the handbrake and shift the gears into neutral.

The examiner will let you know when they want you to move off again; you won’t be asked to perform an emergency stop twice. Don’t forget to carry out all of the usual safety checks before moving off again; your examiner won’t do these on your behalf and forgetting could result in you failing the test.

One of the most well-known manoeuvres included in a driving test, an emergency stop isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Staying in control of the car at all times is just as important as stopping it quickly and it’s a good idea to make sure you have practiced this comprehensively in a safe area before the day of your test.