Stage 2: Emergency Braking
Location: Large, empty parking lot
Length of Lesson: 25-35 minutes
Emergency braking means coming to a stop…fast. We’ve all been in situations where bringing the vehicle to an immediate stop is absolutely necessary to avoid a collision. Usually, this reaction is instinctive. Any hesitation could mean the difference between a near miss and a nasty crash.
Teens must practice to create this instinctive behavior. When that signal goes off in their brain that there is an immediate danger, they must brake forcefully. They cannot afford to wait for the situation to develop, cover brake, and then start braking.
New drivers are rarely taught emergency braking
New drivers are typically not prepared for this type of braking. It simply isn’t taught in driver’s ed classes. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. In fact, I can’t think of anything more important than teaching your teen how to brake out of dangerous situations.
Your child needs to know how their car will behave while emergency braking. They also need to learn how to steer and brake at the same time.
Head to a large, empty parking lot
Before you have your teen practice emergency braking, first show them how it is done. This way, they’ll understand how quickly you want them to stop. Many new drivers are hesitant to brake as hard as they should.
Stopping in a straight line
In most emergency situations, stopping quickly while continuing in a straight line is the safest course of action. So, we suggest the following exercise:
- Accelerate to 15mph and maintain that speed.
- Call out “Stop now!” at random. You want your teen to practice on quickly pivoting their foot from the accelerator to the brake.
- Your teen should apply heavy pressure to the brake pedal and stop in a very short distance. This exercise is not intended to teach smooth braking.
- Increase speed to 20, 25, and 30 mph and repeat. Make sure your teen is comfortable stopping at each speed before increasing to the next level.
Stop and Steer
There are situations in which you must brake and steer around an obstacle at the same time. The only way to prepare for these situations is to practice them in a controlled environment.
This exercise requires a large cardboard box that can be seen while driving. Make sure the box is empty so that it doesn’t cause any damage to your car if it gets run over.
- Accelerate to 15 mph and maintain that speed.
- Call out “Stop now” when within 25-35 feet of the box.
- Your teen should brake hard and attempt to stop before hitting the box. If they are going to hit the box, they should steer around it.
- Increase speed to 20, 25, and 30 mph. As the speed increases, your teen will find it impossible to stop before hitting the box. This will force them to steer around the box.
This exercise will teach your teen how to brake and steer at the same time. It will also make them even more comfortable with their ABS brake system as it will surely engage during this exercise.
- Staring at the obstacle. Many new drivers make the mistake of fixating on the object they want to avoid. While they must be aware of the obstacle, their eyes should be focused on their intended path of travel (i.e. the escape route). If they focus on the box, they’ll probably hit the box.
- Easing off the brakes when the ABS system engages. The first few times your ABS system kicks in can be somewhat startling. Many new drivers think the car is falling apart or they’re going to damage the brakes. Reassure them that the odd behavior means that the system is working properly.
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