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Stop Now

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stop Now

Tim HillerbyMorgan
15 December 2009


Most car accidents are caused by driver error.

It might not be you at fault, but it will be someone's fault that you crashed.

This is why most driving instructors tell their learner drivers rule number one on their first driving lesson. Rule number one sates "Everybody else on the road is a complete and utter fool. Treat them as such. Stay well away and tell them what you are going to do". Staying away from foolish drivers is easy. You need to develop the habit of good hazard awareness. Try to see what the other driver is about to do well before they become a problem.

Even the best drivers are caught out occasionally. They will have to react quickly to prevent an accident. This article explains how to stop in an emergency.

Ask your driving instructor if you can practice the emergency stop. You should practice it with in a driving school car. Other drivers expect you to stop suddenly. The driving instructor knows when it is safe to stop suddenly.

You should only use this technique to prevent injury to yourself or another road user.

You are driving along a country road and a small bird flies out of a hedge six feet from you. You would not carry out an emergency stop, it is not going to hurt you or damage the car. If a sheep ran out six feet from you then you would need the emergency stop. The impact will hurt you and the car.

You are driving in town and a little Scottie dog runs into the road a few feet ahead. You would not do the emergency stop. It is not likely to hurt you or the car. A German Shepherd Dog would need an emergency stop because that impact will hurt you and the car.

This does not mean that you should run over dogs or birds. If you can stop in time then stop.

What if a child runs out in front of you? What if a car pulls out in front of you?

You will need to practice the manoeuvre. Only your driving instructor or driving examiner can insist on you doing this exercise. We are trained to decide if it safe. If you are practising with a relative, you both must decide if it is safe.

The Controlled Stop

The emergency stop is best described as the controlled stop. You want to stop quickly and under control. Do not check your mirrors. There is no time. Hold the steering wheel firmly. Brake followed straight away by the clutch Firm fast breaking to a halt Secure the car and check no one is hurt. Move off as you normally would.

Skids Skids are caused by driver error. The driver was not driving to the road and traffic conditions.

If you are skidding, lift your feet off the pedals If you are skidding in a straight line just keep the steering wheel straight. If you are skidding to the right steer to the left until the car is straight.

If you are skidding to the left, steer to the right.

ABS Most modern cars are equipped with ABS. This is a system of sensors. If the wheels are locking under hard braking, the sensors make the car take over braking. The car will pump the breaks faster than any human can.

ABS allows you to steer in an emergency. IT DOES NOT PREVENT SKIDDING.

If, when braking in an emergency, you feel a 'thump thump' under the pedals it is the ABS. Just keep braking.


The Drivers Ed Company manage the BTEC in Driving Skills. This combines the work of driving instructors, driving schools and learner drivers. The online course runs alongside driving lessons to form a powerful driver training aid. This course will improve pass rates and reduce deaths on the roads. www.driversedcompany.com

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