By the time you are ready to take the driving test, as a candidate, you should know when to make use of the vehicle's handbrake.
For those of you who are not sure, the purpose of a car's handbrake is to secure it in a stationary position after you have stopped and will not be moving for sometime (at traffic lights or a busy junction). You should also apply the handbrake after stopping uphill to make it easier to move off safely if you are having problems finding the biting point (balancing the brake and clutch together) thus prevent you rolling backwards.
You do not need to apply the handbrake every single time you stop in traffic especially if you will be moving again shortly, and the same applies at junctions.
You definately do not want to be applying the handbrake before the car has come to a stop, and you should not develop the habit of taking your hand off the steering wheel as you break to a stop in anticipation of using the handbrake.
It is also advisable to use the handbrake if you obey a STOP sign, as then there is no doubt about whether the vehicle came to a complete stop or not.
Another time to use the handbrake is while performing driving test maneuvers so you can keep control of the car while changing gears or taking effective observations. As a driver it is your responsibility to be safe, so ask your instructor questions if not sure, and practice whatever you are weak at (hill starts, reversing round the corner, dual carriageways) so you have a better chance of success.
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