Motorcycle Hand and Arm Signals You Should Know

How long have you been riding? You may have noticed how experienced riders know of all the tricks and tips, as well as the universal motorcycle hand signals.

If you ride regularly, you’ve probably used the signals yourself. If not, it might be useful to learn them as you gain more experience in riding, especially if you ride in groups.

In some cases, even car drivers are suggested to learn some of these signs since they share the road with bikers. It’s all for the idea of getting along and understanding one another while on the road.

Take a moment to read about the motorcycle hand signals in the article below as we explain how and why to use them.

Why You Should Use Arm Signals While Driving

Motorcycles are more exposed to dangerous situations, and using hand signals can actually improve your safety through communication. It’s an easy way of preventing accidents, injuries, and damage to your motorcycle. 

Your primary interest should always be to be seen and noticed by other riders. So, by showing a particular hand sign, you’re telling the fellow rider what you’re about to do. Still, make sure to do it early enough, giving them time to notice you.

Is This Type of Sign Language Legal?

It’s legal to use them, but it’s also not illegal not to use them. Using hand signs isn’t mandatory, but it’s often recommended to improve your safety. 

You don’t have to use them as long as you have amber-colored indicators, tail light, headlight, and brake light.

What Are the Hand and Arm Turn Signals for Driving?

Luckily, riders came up with a vast range of hand signals to help improve safety and communication on the road. These are commonly known, but might change from country to country, so make sure always to be extra careful nonetheless.

Left Turn

Extend your left arm and hand all the way with the palm facing down. This is a standard signal, even bicycle riders use, so it’s usually the same in most countries. Still, make sure to use it early enough, so the rider behind you has time to notice and act upon it.

Left-Turn Signal

Right Turn

Contrary to popular belief, you should use the left hand for a right turn signal. Raise the hand and bend it at a 90° angle with your fist closed. This isn’t as well-known, so you’ll probably see riders using their right arm to show they’re turning right.

Hazard

If the hazard is on the left, you should extend the left arm and point toward the ground with your index finger. If it’s on the right, you should use your right foot to point toward the ground. Avoid using your right hand to indicate hazard on the right side of the road due to safety concerns.

Speed Up

Extend the left arm straight out with palm facing up. Swing it upward to indicate the other rider to speed up for whatever reason. 

This signal might not be as universally known, so make sure to use it with caution, especially if you’re traveling outside the United States.

Slow Down

Extend your arm the same way with the palm facing down. Swing it down to your side to show the rider to slow down. Much like the “speed up” sign, this one isn’t as commonly known, so make sure you’re careful when using it.

Pull Over

There’s a specific sign to use if you want your fellow rider to pull over. Extend your left arm and make vertical waving motion toward your body. It’s a well-known sign, so you probably won’t have any issues using it outside the States.

Pull Over Hand Signal

Follow Me

If you want a fellow rider to follow you, you should extend your left arm up. Face forward with your palm to tell the other rider to follow you where you’re going. It’s quite a common sign; therefore, most avid bikers will understand your command.

Lead or Come Here

If you want people to lead or come, you should extend the left arm up at 45° angle. Point with your index finger and wave back to forth to indicate to that person that you want them to lead or come.

Lead/Come Hand Sign

Single File

This is another quite common sign, so you can freely use it around the world. Still, beginners might not know it, so be careful if you’re riding with someone who’s not as experienced. 

Extend your left arm and index finger up at the same time.

Double File

Much like the “single file” sign, this one is also well-known among experienced riders. The two are quite similar also, with just a bit of difference. Extend the left arm up, but this time, you want to point your index and middle fingers up.

Double File Hand Signal

Refreshment Stop

If you need refreshment after some time on the road, you should let other riders know correctly and securely. This is quite simple to do, so just close your left fist and show thumb to mouth. It’s a common sign, so it’s unlikely someone would struggle to understand it.

Refreshment Stop Hand Signal

Comfort Stop

There’s another sign for when you need to stop for comfort reasons that don’t include refreshment. Extend your left arm while your fist is closed. Now make a waving motion, going up and down in short. This is to indicate your fellow rider that you want to make a comfort stop.

Comfort Stop Hand Signal

Turn Signal On

Open and close your hand with fingers and your thumb extended to show someone that their turn signal is on. It’s a potentially dangerous situation to be in, so it’s always good to inform the other rider that they forgot to turn it off.

Turn Signal On Hand Signal

Getting Fuel

There’s also a sign to use when you want to show your group that you need fuel. Place your arm out to the side and point to the tank with your index finger. Luckily, this sign is easy to understand even if the other rider you’re with doesn’t know it.

Police Signals/Signs

If you see police somewhere on your way, you can use a specific sign to alert the fellow rider on the road.

Tap on top of your helmet with an open palm to indicate that there’s a patrol somewhere near. It’s a common sign that most riders learn right off the bat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do motorcyclists point to the ground?

In most cases, it’s because there’s a hazard on the road. It can be anything potentially dangerous like a hole, herd of animals, icy patch of the road and other such things. 

Pay attention to the side of the road which the rider is showing to since that’s where the potential danger is.

Do you have to ride in a group to use this code?

You don’t necessarily have to be in a group though some signs only work then. Police, Turn Sign, Hazard, and other such signs you can show to other riders that you’re not actually riding with.

Conclusion

We’re sure you’ve seen people use some of these signs, and maybe you even knew what some of them meant. It’s because specific signals are used more frequently, so beginners come across them much faster than others.

Still, if you’re a beginner, you should dedicate some time to learning these few signals. Though you’re not legally obliged to use them, your time on the road will be much safer and more comfortable if you did implement them.

Additional Resources

The team at Road Racerz aims to be a source of knowledge for all riders, whether they are beginners, intermediate, or have been riding for 20+ years. We want everyone to enjoy safer rides and have access to rider-specific content to get the most out of every mile.

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