Stopping Safely in an Emergency Situation

Knowing how to stop your vehicle properly is an important driving skill. Anytime prior to stopping, you should always check your mirrors. Proactive drivers will also see any problems developing ahead, look for an out, and if necessary, plan for an emergency stop.

If you find that you have to react quickly, the following tips will help give you better control of your vehicle:

  • Pivot your right foot from the accelerator pedal to the brake pedal.
  • Use only your right foot. ‘Two foot’ driving is not recommended at any time, but in an emergency situation it can be even more dangerous, as the chance that you may use both pedals at the same time increases.
  • Press the brake pedal firmly and evenly.

Never Pump the Brakes

Regardless of your vehicle braking system and road conditions, to stop safely, never pump the brakes. In an ABS system this will send the wrong message to the computer and increase stopping distance. With disc brakes, you risk locking the wheels.

Threshold Braking
In an emergency stopping situation, threshold braking technique is the best practice in a vehicle that is not equipped with ABS. Done properly, threshold braking should bring you to a reasonably quick & controlled stop in your own lane, even in slippery conditions.

  • Press firmly down on the brake pedal, applying as much braking force as possible without inducing a skid.
  • If you feel any of the wheels begin to lock up, release the brake pressure slightly and re-apply.
  • Hold firmly until you stop.

ABS Braking System
Vehicles equipped with an ABS braking system ought to provide controlled braking on most road surfaces. For ABS braking in an emergency situation:

  • Press the brake pedal firmly.
  • Don’t let up and allow the system to control wheel lock-up.
  • Bring the vehicle to a stop.

Ready to take our Quiz? We recommend that you read Clearing the Path for Stop Signs and Stopping Tips for Drivers next so you’ll be better prepared to pass the quiz or, you can take the quiz now.


I am a Fleet Safety Operations Manager with 30 years of experience teaching traffic safety across five provinces, and in four countries. Outside of work, I am an avid traveller, a fervent Flames fan, and a Mustang enthusiast.