How to safely come to a stop!
Stopping the car safely is of course an essential skill! At a basic level, in order to stop or slow, you take your right foot off the gas (the car will automatically begin to slow as it loses momentum) and apply the brake progressively (the faster the car is moving the more effort will be required on the brake.)
Mirror, Signal, Manœuvre
Of course though, in order to stop the car safely before applying the brake, you must first check the interior and left hand mirror to make sure it is safe to do so.
Note: In an emergency situation however, for example a child running out in the road, then you must stop as promptly as you can and there is no time to check the mirrors
Therefore, the normal routine we must apply before stopping is:
Mirrors: check rear view mirror for following vehicles and the left view mirror for cycles and possibly pedestrians.
Signal: left indicator.
Take foot off the gas and cover the over the brake.
Steer towards the left hand side of the road, straighten up at the appropriate distance from the kerb and use the brake progressively to stop the car.
Note: Just before stopping completely depress the clutch to prevent stalling.
Phew – I’ve stopped!
Of course now you have stopped, you haven’t quite finished – you need to make sure the car is safe. In order to do this:
- Apply the handbrake.
- Select neutral.
- Cancel the indicator.
Now you can safely take your feet of the pedals and breath a sigh of relief!
Where can I stop?
When instructed to do so by your instructor, you must stop in a safe, legal and convenient place on the left hand side. (Of course, for various reasons you sometimes you may need to park on the right side of the road, but for the most part you will be expected to park on the left-hand side)
There are specific road markings and signs indicating where it is illegal and to park and even stop at all: for example on a freeway indicated by the illustrated sign, you must not stop.
Therefore, you must not stop or park on double yellow lines, pedestrian crossings, within 10 M from a corner, in a bus lane, in a box junction (unless exit clear) or outside a school entrance.
See the following Highway code links for more detail:
Other places may be less restrictive. For example single yellow lines indicate you may stop and park at times specified.
Traffic signs giving orders
Here are some unsafe places as specified in the highway code. An unsafe place could be for example on a bend.
For example blocking someones exit or driveway or opposite an adjoining road on the right.
What about gears?
You will probably hear your instructor use the following phrase: “Brakes to slow gears to go”
Generally you do not use gears and engine braking to slow the car down. The reasons for this are:
- Engine braking uses more fuel.
- It is safer to have both hands on the wheel when slowing.
- The car behind doesn’t know you are slowing as your brake lights will not be illuminated.
Note: Engine braking is useful however when descending a steep hill – changing down to a lower gear can help control the speed of the car.
What about the clutch?
Initially many pupil get confused as to the role of the clutch when coming to a stop. The clutch has nothing to do with stopping the car! The only reason you depress the clutch when stopping is to stop the car stalling just before you come to a complete standstill.
A couple of tips
Why do pupils hit the kerb. Invariably its because they are looking in the wrong place – normally the left mirror. If you look well ahead you will find you’ll get the car more accurately aligned.
HANDY TIP: On the test when the examiner asks you to find a safe place to stop, do the mirrors and signal first and THEN look for a safe place.
How to move off
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