How to stop a car

Novice 4 minute read 4 years ago

If you're reading this, you've probably already discovered how to move a car/drive a car away from the side of the road. As you can probably imagine, the next really important thing to master is how to stop the car safely.

Carry on reading below to find out how to stop the car safely, legally and without harming or affecting other road users.

How to select a safe place to stop or park

Firstly, there is a difference between stopping and parking. Stopping means a short period of time. So in many instances you will be able to stop on double yellow lines to drop off passengers/pick up for example but you cannot park there.

Parking means stopping your car and exiting the vehicle to go somewhere, whether it be a short or long period of time.

There are many things to consider when stopping or parking by the side of the road, here are few areas which are against the law:

  • Parking too close to a junction (3 car lengths)
  • Parking opposite a junction
  • Blocking driveways/pathways
  • Parking on double yellow lines
  • Stopping or parking on bends or brows of a hill
  • Parking in bus stops or disabled areas

You can find more information on where it is safe to park your car at where can you park your car?.

Using MSPSL to stop your car on the left

Assuming you have found a safe, legal and convenient place to stop (SLAC) you should then start using the MSPSL routine.


Interior mirror and then the left door mirror.

What’s behind you? Is there someone following close or about to overtake?


If you think a signal will benefit other road users then be sure to put a signal on in good time.

Be careful you don’t put it on too early, if you are passing a junction with a left signal on, then other road users may think you are turning and this could cause a serious accident.


If you are in the middle of the road you should start to adjust your position so you are closer to the kerb.

With your signal already on and your position closer to the kerb other road users can gauge and trust what you are doing.


Start using the footbrake at higher speeds first, do not press the clutch down straight away, this I known as coasting.

As you are gradually pressing the brake you may notice the engine noise become lower (you may also notice the rev counter lowering) these are tell, tell signs that should start getting ready to press the clutch down. If you can feel the car juddering, then you are slightly late pressing the clutch down fully. When the clutch is depressed, make sure you continue to brake until the car has come to a stop. Just before you stop it often helps to just ease of the brake slightly so you don’t stop abruptly.

Once you have stopped, just check you are happy with the distance from the kerb. Ideally you should be 1 foot away from the kerb and no further and not much closer.


Recheck your mirrors for any unusual activity that may affect you.

Double check your surroundings – have you stopped in a safe, legal and convenient place? Is there someone right behind you that can't manoeuvre out behind you?

Secure the car after stopping

Remember 1, 2, 3 after stopping:

  1. Apply the handbrake
  2. Select neutral
  3. Cancel your signal and rest your feet.

Top Tips

  1. Always identify a safe place to stop first, then apply MSPSL. Do not start slowing down to stop without a target place.
  2. If the examiner asks you to stop in a particular place, then follow their instructions - they're not trying to trick you! If they say, "Pull up on the left/right in a safe, legal and convenient place", then it's up to you to find the correct place to stop.
  3. At high speeds, do not put the clutch down before braking. This is coasting!
  4. Once you have stopped, it's not compulsory but it's advised you select neutral. When the examiner asks you to drive away again, there is no risk of trying to move away in second or third gear.
  5. If you are struggling to gauge where the kerb is, try the following: raise your seat position higher, user your door mirror as you slow down (quick glance). Ask your instructor about a focal point, sometimes it helps to put a marker on the window to line it up with the kerb.

On the Driving Test Marking Sheet

This section can involve the following sections of the Driving Test Report Form:

Section 12: Control - Clutch
Section 12: Control - Gears
Section 12: Control - Footbrake
Section 12: Control - Steering
Section 14: Use of mirrors - signalling/change of speed
Section 15: Signals - necessary/correctly timed
Section 17: Response to signs - road markings
Section 25: Position - normal stops

Top Tips

The examiner will ask you to pull up on the left in a safe place, where you would leave your car, at least once during the test. Many learners rush this and pull up as soon as possible not taking into consideration the place they have stopped in may not be ideal. For example, they may be too close to a junction. Take your time and only pull up on the left when you are happy it’s a safe and good place. Don’t forget the MSPSL routine on the approach too!

-Driving instructor in Luton


You should be able to select a safe place to stop the car, understand and demonstrate the use of the MSPSL routine to stop the car safely in a legal and convenient place.

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