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Stopping in an emergency

In normal conditions, a good driver should not need to brake really hard. However, emergencies can happen - for instance, when a child runs into the road in front of you - so you must know how to stop quickly under control. Stopping in an emergency increases the risk of skidding.

Remember, even when stopping quickly, follow the rule of progressive braking - pushing the brake pedal harder as the vehicle slows down. A quick reaction is crucial in an emergency The sooner you start braking, the sooner you should stop.

Practise the following routine 

Keep both hands on the steering wheel. You need as much control as possible. Avoid braking so hard that you lock any of the wheels. A skid sideways or a wheel sliding may cause serious loss of control. Don't touch the clutch pedal until just before you stop. This helps with your braking and stability. Don't touch the parking brake. Most parking brakes work on the back wheels only. Extra braking here can cause skidding.


This routine is not necessarily correct if you have ABS brakes. Refer to your manufacturer's handbook. Unless you're moving off again straightaway, put the parking brake on and the gear lever into neutral. Practise braking to judge the correct pressure and remember to take into account road and weather conditions.

If the road is dry, you should apply firm pressure, but on a wet road or loose surface, you should avoid using too much. This means you'll need to reduce speed and increase your separation distance from the vehicle in front.

When braking in an emergency Don't signal- you need both hands to control the steering. Don't make a special point of looking in the mirror - you should know what's behind anyway. Stop as quickly and safely as possible, keeping your vehicle under full control. Look all round before moving off again.

Defensive driving Try to avoid the emergency arising.

    1. look well ahead
    2. watch for children playing
    3. remember school times
    4. look out for pedestrians
    5. look for clues, such as reflections.

Always drive at such a speed that you can stop safely in the distance you can see to be clear. If it's not clear, slow down. Prepare for the unexpected.


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