Updated at: 02-09-2022 - By: Lucas

In most instances, pressing your foot down on the brake is enough to decelerate the car or bring it to a halt.

The ABS system has been a part of the standard equipment for more than two decades and makes stopping easier, but in specific cases, you need to apply other braking tactics to ensure a safe ride one of which is emergency stab braking.

To perform the emergency stab braking method, hit the brake pedal hard. When the wheels lock up, release the brake pedal. Repeat the process until the vehicle decelerates to a safe speed, or comes to a halt.

Emergency stab braking is typically employed on vehicles without the ABS system to avoid wheels from locking up, but it can be quite useful even on vehicles that have ABS.

Its application is highly useful when transporting, towing, or driving a big vehicle, so I’ll explain all the circumstances where emergency stab braking might come in handy.

What is the ABS System?

Emergency Stab Braking Is When You

To appreciate the relevance of emergency stab braking, we must first discuss about the ABS system and the distinctions between vehicles that have ABS and those that don’t.

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The ABS is an abbreviation for Anti lock Braking System, a safety feature placed on vehicles, lorries, buses, motorcycles, and even airplanes. The system has been in development for almost 100 years, with the contemporary system based on Mario Palazzeti’s concept from 1971.

What the ABS system does is simple, yet genius. When you push the brake pedal forcefully, the brake caliper squeezes on the brake rotor, slowing down the wheel. With enough force applied, the wheel can lock up and stop spinning.

The primary steering technique requires the wheels to revolve, and if they stop altogether, the vehicle morphs into something more like to a sled. The ABS mechanism releases and reapply brake pressure multiple times per second, so they’re never effectively locked up.

From the physics perspective, ABS delivers improved traction and consequently shorter stopping distance. The second benefit of the ABS is just as, if not more significant the driver may retain control over the car, and steer when braking.

How Does The Conventional Brake System Work?

Emergency Stab Braking Is When You-2

Unless you’re into ancient automobiles or a part of the elder generation, it’s probable that you’ve never driven a car without ABS, or at the very least experienced the inconveniences of not having one.

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The traditional braking system has the same components as the ABS system, save from the ABS module and a few accompanying pieces. When you stomp on the brake forcefully, the caliper or drum force is enough to entirely stop the rotation of the wheels.

As the automobile is still in motion, the tires will skid on the road, accompanied by the well known high pitch screech. Depending on the conditions, the car may start rotating in one direction or another, as if it were on ice.

The driver will not have any control over the direction the car’s travelling until the brakes are removed.

This issue is so critical that the hunt for a remedy started very early in the development of the automotive industry. Eventually, we would obtain ubiquitous ABS systems, but those who did not have ABS in their automobiles had to learn the stab method, which I’ll now discuss in detail.

How To Perform Emergency Stab Braking

The stab braking technique was devised by drivers before to the widespread adoption of ABS, but it doesn’t imply it’s not beneficial for both braking systems.

Steps to Perform Emergency Stab Braking:

The repeated motion of the stab braking is comparable to what a drummer does to a foot pedal, or to kicking something in. You’re stabbing the brake pedal with your foot frequently, swiftly, and with a specific force.

The technique isn’t too hard to perfect, but some workout would go a long way, merely to build up that muscle memory. It will be difficult to develop the reflex to stab the brake rather than press and hold.

The Benefits of Stab Braking

Emergency Stab Braking Is When You-3

Even without an anti-lock brake system (ABS), stab braking helps drivers to maintain control of their vehicles. In addition to emergency braking, stab braking can benefit all drivers in a variety of situations.


During a corner, front wheel drive vehicles have oversteer, rear wheel drive vehicles experience understeer, and four wheel drive vehicles slide with the entire body if the cornering speed is excessive. The obvious solution to this problem is to brake, however the timing of your brake application is critical.

Even in a vehicle equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS), braking as the steering wheel is turned is generally a bad idea. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to slow down before the turn, even though cars can handle much more than this.

Brake hard as you approach the turn. It is now more safer to maintain your foot on the brake while driving through the first part of the corner, as the speed has already been greatly lowered.

As soon as you’ve reached the exit, reapply the gas to help you exit the corner and continue on the straight.

Downhill Driving

A simplified version of stab braking might assist you maintain the brakes working when going downhill for an extended period of time. While rolling down, the vehicle will accelerate at varied rates based on its weight and aerodynamics.

Downhill speed will be severely impacted by the weight and aerodynamics of most modern vehicles, which are nearly twice as heavy as their predecessors from the 20th century.

Using the stab braking technique in conjunction with pre corner braking will help you avoid the unpleasant smell of burning brake pads and, in the worst case scenario, brake pad failure.

There is a long and straight downhill trail ahead of us, so let’s envision it now. When you don’t put any gas in the automobile, it will still move forward, especially if you have the transmission set to a high gear.

Engine Braking

Brake hard and put the transmission in L mode, or 2nd/3rd gear on a manual transmission. To help the vehicle maintain a set speed limit in the face of external forces, this will activate the engine braking system.

You may shift into second gear and barely touch the brake at all. However, you’ll only be able to travel at a maximum speed of 20 to 25 mph. The reason for this is that we have to balance the engine braking with our desired speed and the amount of braking we need to do.

Stab Braking

When driving on a flat surface, it is quite OK to use the brakes smoothly and for a long time. When the driving circumstances change, it reduces the speed of the vehicle accordingly, keeping passengers comfortable.

Downhill driving, on the other hand, has been plagued by a slew of issues, from burned brake pads to a preemptive automobile shut-off. When descending, the strategy just does not work, and here is why.

In order to slow down a car when traveling down a steep hill, the brakes must work harder than normal.

Even if you slam on the brakes all the way, the car will maintain its current speed and not accelerate any further. This extended braking also generates a lot of friction, which in turn generates heat.

This type of braking is all about applying a lot of force and speed to the brake pedal. Slow down to 45-40mph halfway through or even more if you’re at 50mph.

After reducing the brake in 1 2 second intervals, there is still time for the brakes to cool before the following cycle.

In terms of downhill safety, this technique is unrivaled. Despite the pain for the passengers, this is the safest way to travel down a mountain. A steeper descent necessitates faster and more forceful braking than a less steep one.

Corner Braking

If you’re traveling downhill, using your pre-corner braking technique is a necessity. In terms of stability and control, it’s much better to apply heavy pressure to the brakes while traveling straight than it is to do so while turning.

Repetitively apply the brakes as you approach a corner to bring the speed down to a safe level. Then you’ll be able to take the corner more confidently and, if required, accelerate.

As a rule of thumb, I always tell my students that if you have to brake when cornering, you’re doing so at the wrong time.


What type of braking is used in an emergency?

Do not rely on the hand brake, parking brake, or e-brake for emergency braking, as these are all ineffective.

Only if the hydraulic brake fluid was fully depleted and the brake pedal was no longer responsive would you need to use a handbrake on the road. A cable-operated hand brake can come in handy in this situation.

Some things you must do quickly when you need to brake exceptionally hard are listed here. The first thing to remember is to maintain your eyes on the road and not to flinch. Using the foot pedal to stab the brakes is no longer necessary for cars manufactured after the early 2000s.

Swerve only after you’ve applied the brakes. Check the left side of the road and the left mirror while you’re braking to avoid an accident. The ABS system will allow you to steer and brake at the same time if there is no one else in the vehicle.

Does emergency brake use front brakes?

For a long time, the parking brake required the use of the rear brakes, but this is no longer the case thanks to the advent of electronically controlled brakes.


It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive if you know how to employ the emergency stab braking procedure. Knowing how to stab the brake will at the very least enable you safely descent down a lengthy stretch of road, despite the fact that all modern automobiles have ABS as standard equipment.