In 1938, the modern flashing turn signal was patented. Shortly after which most major automobile manufacturers offered this feature. Nowadays, most countries require turn signals on all new vehicles that are driven on public roadways.
Many a time, however, just depending on the lights of your motorcycle alone might not cut it. It may be raining too hard for the lights to be visible to the person behind you. Or for some unfortunate (hopefully not) reason, the lights on your bike stopped working (replace them as soon as the chance if this is the case).
But regardless of most instances, hand signals just happen to be much more visible than turn signals. Even if you’re not faced with the problems listed above, learning what each hand signal means is good practice for a motorcycle rider.
16 Motorcycle Hand Signals
Left Turn Hand Signal
This signal is to let the person behind you know that you’re about to make a left turn.
- Extend your left arm straight
- Incline it to your body at an angle of 90 degrees
- Keep your arm faced toward the ground
Right Turn Hand Signal
This signal is to let the person behind you know that you’re about to make a right turn.
Since most of you are right-handed, we highly recommend signaling with the left hand unless you’re ambidextrous. Controlling the throttle with your weak hand is a recipe for disaster.
- Extend your left arm
- Bend it at the elbow
- Point your hand upwards
Stop Hand Signal
This is to let the person behind you know that you plan on pulling over.
- Bend your left arm down at the elbow, while keeping the rest straight
- Keep your palm faced back
To Let The Person Behind You Speed Up
If you’re unfamiliar with the area you’re in and know that you’re about to arrive at your intended destination, you’re probably going to be slowing down.
In such situations, giving the person behind you the signal to speed up/ overtake you is good manners.
To do so:
- Extend your arm straight out
- Keep your palm facing up
- Repeatedly swing your arm upwards
To Tell The Person Behind You To Slow Down
There are going to be times where you’re in a situation similar to the one described above and see something like a traffic jam, roadblock, or accident ahead while you drive on a narrow road without ample space for overtaking.
In such situations, letting the person behind know they should slow down is paramount.
To do so:
- Extended your arm straight out
- Keep your palm facing down
- Swing your arm down towards your side
Follow Me Signal
This signal has more to do with common sense and less out of necessity. However, a simple gesture such as a regular swing towards your body may throw the person tailing you (or worse, other folks on the road) off by confusing them.
Which is why you should:
- Extend your arm straight up
- Keep your palm faced forward
Lead Me Signal
If you want to switch places with the person behind you, do the following:
- Extend your arm upwards at a degree of 45° to your body
- Keep your palm faced forward with a pointed index finger
- Swing your hand in an arc from back to front
To Let The Person Behind Know About A Hazard In The Roadway
This one is pretty simple.
If the hazard is on the left, point at it with your left hand.
If the hazard is on the right, point at it with your right foot.
To Notify Your Group To Form In Single File
If you’re riding your motorcycle in a group and are approaching a narrow roadway, you need to signal the other drivers in your group ahead of time to enter into a single file line by:
- Raising your arm into the air
- Holding up your index finger
To Notify Your Group To Form In Double File
If you’re in the same situation described above but riding down a slightly wider roadway where you have ample space for your group to assemble in double file:
- Raise your arm into the air
- Hold your hand up with both index and middle fingers in a “V” shape
We recommend double file over single file if you have enough space as it is more orderly than a staggered formation on a highway.
To Make A Comfort Stop
- Extend your forearm
- Clench your fist
- Shake it up and down
To Make A Refreshment Stop
If you’re feeling hungry and/or tired and want to pull over for a quick pick-me-up:
- Place your thumb to your mouth
- Keep your fingers closed in a drinking gesture
Again, common sense.
Turn Signal On
To let the person behind you know that you just switched the turn signal on, do the following.
- Extend your arm
- Open and close your hands with your thumb and fingers out
When You’re About To Pull Over
You need to do this ahead of time when you intend to park your motorcycle and not all of a sudden, so the person behind you has enough time to react appropriately.
- Position your arm as if you’re about to take a right turn
- Swing your forearm towards your shoulder
To Notify The Person Behind That Cops Are Ahead
To let the people driving behind you know that policeman are ahead, do the following:
- Tap the top of your helmet with the palm faced down
- Keep doing so for an appropriate amount of time
When Pulling Over For Fuel
When alerting the people behind that your fuel is low and that you’re about to pull over for gas, do the following:
- Keep your arm at the side
- Point towards the tank with the finger extended