How to emergency stop a car

5 minute read Published on Feb 16, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

How to emergency stop a car

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to halt your vehicle abruptly but weren’t sure of the safest way to do it? Understanding the nuances of an emergency stop is a crucial skill that can mean the difference between safety and disaster.

In this blog, we talk about the critical techniques of emergency braking, including step-by-step instructions on how to carry out an emergency stop. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to handle sudden stops effectively, ensuring your safety and that of others on the road.

How to stop safely in an emergency

Staying calm and applying firm and steady pressure on the brake pedal when safely stopping a vehicle in an emergency is critical for all drivers. But it’s not just about reacting quickly. It’s also about making informed decisions under pressure to avoid losing control. Executing a controlled stop effectively can prevent accidents, protect lives, and ensure the safety of the driver and others on the road during their everyday driving.

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to safely stop suddenly:

Stay calm and alert

The first and most important step is to remain calm. Panicking can lead to mistakes, so take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand.

Keep your hands firmly on the steering wheel, stay focused, and remember your training or driving instructions.

Check your mirrors quickly

Before braking, quickly glance at your rearview and side mirrors to assess the traffic situation around you. This will help you understand if there is space for a sudden stop without causing a rear-end collision.

Apply firm and steady pressure on the brake pedal

Apply steady pressure on the brake pedal firmly. If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), the system will prevent the wheels from locking up, allowing you to maintain steering control. In such cases, you can press the brake as hard as needed without worrying about skidding.

Avoiding pumping the brakes if you have ABS

If your vehicles have ABS, do not pump the brake pedals. The ABS will automatically modulate brake pressure to prevent wheel lockup, allowing you to steer even under heavy braking.

Steering during an emergency stop

If you need to steer around an obstacle while braking, do so with smooth and decisive movements. Sudden or jerky movements can cause the car to lose control, especially at high speeds.

Use the horn or lights if necessary

If the situation warrants it, use your horn or flash your lights to alert other drivers that you are in an emergency. This can help prevent rear-end collisions and other common accidents.

Engage the hazard lights

Once you have slowed down or have come to a complete stop, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers.

Pull over safely

If possible, navigate your vehicle to a safe location off the road. Avoid stopping in traffic lanes unless it’s unavoidable. If you’re on a highway, try to reach the shoulder or an emergency lane.

Assess the situation and call for help if necessary

Once safe, assess your vehicle for damage. If there’s been an accident or your vehicle is unsafe to drive, call for emergency services immediately.

Here are some emergency braking techniques

Emergency braking techniques are essential for drivers to know how to handle sudden and potentially dangerous situations on the road. Here are some key techniques:

Threshold braking

This technique involves applying the brakes up to the point just before the wheels lock, maintaining maximum braking force without skidding. It’s especially useful in vehicles without an anti-lock braking system(ABS). The driver must feel the brake response and modulate pressure accordingly.

Braking with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)

In vehicles equipped with ABS, the system automatically prevents the wheels from locking during hard braking. The driver should apply firm and continuous pressure to the brake pedal and let the ABS manage wheel traction. ABS allows the driver to maintain steering control during an emergency stop.

Cadence braking

This is an alternative to threshold braking for vehicles without ABS. It involves rapidly pumping the brakes to prevent the wheels from locking. The driver applies and releases brake pressure in quick succession, balancing between slowing down the vehicle and maintaining control.

Controlled skid braking

If a skid occurs, especially in vehicles without ABS, the driver must release the brakes momentarily to regain control and then reapply the brakes smoothly. This method requires practice and a good understanding of the vehicle’s response.

Skids are especially common in adverse weather conditions, like rain, ice, and snow. For winter months, using snow tires can help protect against slips and skids. You can also check out our tips for driving on icy roads.

Engine braking

In addition to using the foot brake, downshifting through the gears can help slow the vehicle down. This technique, known as engine braking, uses the engine’s resistance to reduce speed. It’s particularly useful for maintaining control on steep declines or slippery surfaces.

Using the parking brake in emergencies

In extreme cases where the main brakes fail, the parking brake can be used as an emergency measure. Apply it gradually to avoid locking the rear wheels and losing control.

Car insurance and emergency stops

Car insurance plays a crucial role in mitigating the financial implications of incidents that might occur during an emergency stop. Whether it’s a successful emergency stop that avoids a collision or an unfortunate situation where a crash occurs, having the right types of auto insurance coverage is vital. Comprehensive and collision coverage can help cover the cost of damages to your vehicle, while liability insurance is essential if you inadvertently cause harm to another person or their property.

Accident benefits coverage is particularly relevant if you have to carry out an emergency stop that results in collisions, ensuring that you’re protected against unforeseen expenses. Additionally, having accident forgiveness can be particularly reassuring for drivers when an emergency stop leads to an unintentional accident.

Moreover, some insurance companies offer premium discounts to drivers who have taken advanced driving courses, including those covering emergency braking techniques. Understanding your car insurance policy and ensuring it provides adequate coverage is an important element of being a prepared and responsible driver. Working with an Ontario insurance broker can help you thoroughly understand your policy and avoid common car insurance mistakes.

Practice makes perfect

Practice emergency stops in a safe, controlled environment like an empty parking lot. This helps you understand your vehicle’s braking behaviour and improves your confidence and reaction time in real emergencies. Regular practice can also help drivers familiarize themselves with different braking techniques and their vehicle’s emergency response. Consider practicing under various driving conditions, such as at night, or on snowy, foggy, or rainy days.

Remember, the ultimate goal in any emergency driving situation is to maintain control of your vehicle and to minimize risk to yourself and others. Regular practice, staying calm, and even proper vehicle maintenance are key to achieving this.

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