How to Stop Your Car in an Emergency

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Stop your car in an emergency by following some simple steps. (Photo: @gballgiggs via Twenty20)
Effectively stopping your car in an emergency can prevent serious damage to your vehicle and other property and even save your life. Knowing how to safely bring your car to a halt will make it all the more likely that you will survive and minimize any damage. This article outlines how to stop your car in an emergency in two different scenarios.

How to Stop Your Car When You Are Skidding

Often, a driver loses control of a car due to inclement weather, poor road conditions, bad driving habits, or some combination thereof. If you are skidding on the road, especially if you have an older car without the most up-to-date brakes, it is important that you are able to perform an emergency stop in a dangerous situation.
Step 1: Stay calm and avoid simple mistakes. Before you try anything to fix the problem, you need to make a mental effort not to overreact.
No situation is made better by hysterics, and you’ll quickly make the problem worse if you don’t stay focused.
Additionally, you should not immediately turn off the vehicle. You will lose your power steering and be at the mercy of the road and the elements. You have a much better chance of staying safe if you keep the vehicle on and try to manage the situation.
Do not accelerate. More speed is not going to help you or other drivers. Your goal should be to come to a stop and a higher rate of speed only reduces your ability to control the car.
Step 2: Depress the brake in a controlled manner. Apply pressure to the brake in a slow and calculated way rather than hard and quickly.
Once you have applied the brake for a full second, release the brake in the same slow manner. You should repeat this process until the vehicle is once again in your control.
Applying the brake in this way is using physics to your advantage. In essence, your vehicle has lots of built-up energy in the form of speed, and this energy must be released when you try to stop. If you apply the brakes methodically, you can manage the release of this energy and regain control more effectively.
Step 3: Take stock of the damage. Make sure that you and your passengers are not hurt and that you have not caused any damage to your vehicle.

How to Stop Your Car When Your Brakes Have Gone Out

Step 1: Stay as level-headed as possible. As mentioned above, it is key that you do not lose your bearings, even if you are frightened; doing so will only make the situation much worse.
Just as in the skidding situation, you should not turn off your vehicle because you will lose power steering, which is particularly important here.
Step 2: Alert other drivers to the situation. Put on your flashers and take whatever other steps you can to let other drivers know that you are unable to stop.
Step 3: Downshift your car. Putting your car into a lower gear will naturally slow it down, and this process works for both manual and automatic transmissions.
Step 4: Use the emergency brake. You should then apply the emergency brake to slow the car down.
The effectiveness of this step will probably vary, but it should reduce your rate of speed significantly.
Step 5: Drive your car in a safe direction. The amount of control you have is of course limited, but try to avoid super-crowded areas or other places where you will have less flexibility.
This will hopefully prevent a major accident and resolve the situation cleanly.
Being prepared to stop your car in an emergency is essential. If you are worried about damage to your vehicle as a result of an emergency like this, then you should make sure you have good car insurance coverage to give you some peace of mind.