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Executing the Emergency Stop Manoeuvre in the UK Driving Test: A Comprehensive Guide byย

One of the most critical skills you might be asked to demonstrate during your UK driving test is the emergency stop, also known as the controlled stop. This manoeuvre is vital, as it could very well be a life-saving technique in real-world driving situations.

Here’s how to perform an emergency stop safely and effectively, which will not only prepare you for your driving test but also for any unforeseen incidents on the road.

The Importance of the Emergency Stop

The emergency stop manoeuvre is designed to simulate a real-life situation where you would need to stop the car as quickly as possible to avoid a collision. The key is to stop swiftly while maintaining control of the vehicle, without causing undue distress to passengers or other road users.

When Might You Need to Do It?

During the test, the examiner will ask you to pull over and explain that they would like you to demonstrate an emergency stop. They will ensure the road is clear behind before giving you a signal to stop. You will not be suprised by this at a random point on the test.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Emergency Stop

Step 1: React Quickly

When the examiner gives the signal (usually a raised hand and the word “STOP”), you must react as quickly as possible without panic. Do not confuse speed with haste; a swift but controlled response is what’s needed.

Step 2: Apply the Brakes Firmly

Press the brake pedal firmly and swiftly. The aim is to reduce the stopping distance as much as possible without causing the car to skid. If ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) is fitted to your car, it will prevent the wheels from locking up.

Step 3: Depress the Clutch

Just after you start braking, fully depress the clutch pedal. This is to prevent the engine from stalling and to ensure that you can quickly move off again after stopping. This may vary from car to car, yourย driving instructor will let you know of the best technique for his / her car. If you stall, don’t panic, just restart the engine when you have stopped.

Step 4: Hold the Wheel Steadily

Throughout the emergency stop, keep both hands on the steering wheel in the ‘ten-to-two’ or ‘quarter-to-three’ position. You need to maintain control of the vehicle’s direction as it comes to a stop.

Step 5: Come to a Complete Stop

Stop the car completely. You should do this without locking up the wheels, which means avoiding stamping on the pedals with excessive force if your car doesnโ€™t have ABS.

Step 6: Apply the Handbrake

Once stopped, promptly apply the handbrake to secure the vehicle and select neutral. This will prevent the car from moving once stopped and demonstrates to the examiner that you have completed the manoeuvre.

Step 7: Observe and Move Off

Before moving off again, perform all-round observations to ensure it’s safe to rejoin the flow of traffic. Once the road is clear, signal if necessary, release the handbrake, engage first gear, and move off.

Additional Considerations


If you feel the car begin to skid, ease off the brake slightly and steer into the skid until you regain control, then continue to stop.


If your car has ABS, you’ll feel a pulsing sensation in the brake pedal as you press down. Continue to apply firm pressure; the system is designed to maximise braking efficiency.


Practicing the emergency stop in different conditions (dry, wet, different road surfaces) is crucial, as stopping distances vary.


Always remain calm. The test is assessing your ability to stop quickly and safely, not your ability to deal with the stress of the situation.

**No Warning**

Unlike other manoeuvres, there is no advance warning when you will be required to perform the emergency stop during your test, so stay alert throughout.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to perform the emergency stop manoeuvre with confidence. Remember, this is a skill that’s as much about mental preparedness and understanding of your vehicle as it is about physical execution.

Practice regularly under the supervision of your Book Instructor driving instructor and always approach this aspect of driving with the seriousness it deserves. The emergency stop isn’t just about passing your test; it’s a fundamental driving skill that can prevent accidents and save lives.

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