Stopping

Make sure you know how to stop the car before you attempt to move it! In truth stopping the car is very simple – just press the brake and keep it pushed down until the car stops – however this alone would result in stalling and probably surprising other road users and so it is not recommended! Therefore stopping actually needs to be broken down into several stages. You will need to observe (look around), indicate to tell others what you are going to do, slow down so that you can position the car somewhere safe and then you actually stop the car.

Most people find stopping a little harder to master than moving off, the reason partly lies in the fact that most of the work in moving the car is done whilst stationary and the opposite is true for stopping. That lack of time to think about what comes next means that you will need to either practise stopping where there is plenty of space or you will need to make sure you have really remembered what order you need to do things.

observation

To stop the car safely and under control you must first of all consider other road users. You must choose somewhere safe and convenient and legal in which to stop and you must tell others of your intended actions. Therefore the signal should be given after mirror checks and before slowing down. Do not try to rush this process; you and others need time to adjust.

  1. Check centre mirror first—this gives an accurate picture of distance. Then check the left mirror to ensure that you will not be moving into the path of someone else. (If you are stopping on the right then check the right side mirror).
  2. After making these observations you need to decide what action  you will take. Is there anything that prevents you from stopping or that means you need to give a little more warning than you expected. For example if you have a large vehicle very close behind you , you may decide that the left signal needs to go on immediately and that you need to keep checking  to see where the vehicle is as you proceed through your next actions – you do not want to surprise the vehicle and find that they do not have enough time to move around  you. It is once again important that  these mirror checks do not become a matter of routine but that you actually look to see what is around you, looking specifically for vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, animals) and think about how they will be affected by your next actions. This mirror check also gives you a chance to consider how far from the kerb you are now and how much you will need to move over.

Signal

As previously mentioned communicating to other road users is a crucial aspect of road safety and since indicating is REALLY easy there is absolutely no excuse for not doing so. After having checked your mirrors and thinking about what you need to do – put your indicator on. If you are stopping on the left side of the road then indicate left and if you are stopping on the right side indicate right!

Now you can move onto slowing down. (although it’s worth bearing in mind that your brake lights are also signalling your intentions to others (so if some vehicle is following very closely behind “tapping” your brakes and therefore showing the brake lights briefly (pressing the brake pedal very gently and lightly) could be useful.

slow down

The speed at which you are travelling, the camber and the road surface will all have an impact on how much and how quickly you slow down when you remove your foot from the  accelerator. When you are first learning and practicing at slow speeds you may find that all you need to do to slow the car is to move your foot gently off the accelerator. If this doesn’t slow the car down enough then you will need to gently apply the brake and continue applying pressure until the car slows down enough.

One of the things you will need to decide as the driver is how slow you want to go – if you are trying to drive into a small space you will need to go slower, if you are worried about hitting the kerb then you should go very slowly, if you need to be very exact about where you stop (i.e. you need to finish in a single parking bay) then going slowly will be essential. If in doubt, go slow!

As your confidence grows though I would expect the way you slow down to change slightly. That is when you are first learning you will take longer to work through the stopping process and therefore the car will have slowed down more over that period. When you are first learning to judge your distance from the kerb and how to draw alongside it, you (and your accompanying driver!) will likely want to be slower – this reduces the chances of damaging tyres and alloys if you misjudge the distance and gives more time for the accompanying driver to help you before it becomes a problem. As you master this skill and improve you will likely find  the process naturally speeds up or at least you may slow down later after having started to move over.

All of which is to say, in the early stages and especially if you are in first gear: slow down by coming off the accelerator (cover the brake but don’t press unless it is needed as the car will continue to slow down as you work through the next steps).

position

When you move the gear lever the clutch pedal must be pressed all the way down, after moving the gear lever the clutch must come all the way back up again. The only exception to this is in 1st gear when you will need to find and hold the biting point to make the transition smooth. Before you press the clutch all the way down you must take your foot off the accelerator. You need to be able to select a gear without looking at the gear lever!

So the process for changing gears is:

Remove foot from accelerator pedal completely.   What happens if you do not do this? Why?

Press the clutch pedal all the way down completely.     What happens of you don’t? Why?

Move the gear lever (without looking at it) to the new gear.   What might happen if you take your eyes off the road?

Smoothly bring the clutch pedal all the way up (unless you are in first).    What happens if you move off the clutch too quickly?

Gently press the accelerator again (unless road conditions determine otherwise).

stopping

As mentioned before stopping the car is very simple (press and hold the brake) but stopping the car without stalling can take some practice. Here are the steps you need:

  1. Only when the car is in the correct position should you press the brake a little (more) and completely press the clutch pedal all the way down.
  2. Hold your feet still whilst you put on the handbrake and put the gear lever into neutral.
  3. Remove your feet and cancel the indicator. If at any point the indicator self-cancels before this, you should re-apply it.

There are, of course, places that you should not and must not stop your vehicle.

Can you list places you cannot stop because it is illegal? Where would it be dangerous to stop? Where should you not stop because it could inconvenience others?