Hand signals every road user should know

Updated Apr 05, 2021 | Same topic: Let's Drive Smart!

Let’s make the road a safer place.

Not all means of transportation such as a bicycle come with built-in features to signal road users as to where the driver is heading. Some vehicles even go on the road despite having faulty turn signal lamps. This can be dangerous most especially on roads where driving at high speeds is allowed.

With that being said, all road users must know and recognize a language that every motorist understands in the form of hand signals. This way, all road users can have safer and more convenient mobility on the go in any means of transportation.

1. Left Turn

Left hand turn signal

Know your route to avoid sudden turns

This is one of the most common hand signals that is easily recognized. Pointing your fingers to the left means that you will make a left turn. Some road users point one finger only, while some point four. Before making this signal, make sure to check the rear of your left-hand side to avoid sudden changes in speed for both you and an upcoming vehicle. If you see someone point to the left behind their back, it means that there is an obstruction ahead and you must move to the left to avoid it.

2. Right Turn

Biking on a road

Observe hand signals from other road users as well

The same hand signal from the left turn is used in the right turn signal. Only this time, you point to the right. You can also point to the right behind your back to signal road users tailing you that there is an obstacle ahead and they must move to the right. Also, plan your route so you can signal ahead of time and avoid instantaneous turns which can lead to an unwanted accident.

3. Go Ahead

Go ahead signal from a car

Be considerate of other road users to avoid road rage

The most important factor for all road users around the world is communication. If you are cycling, there is a chance that a car is not overtaking you because the driver thinks you are not aware that he/she is behind you. You can tell them to overtake you by doing the go-ahead hand signal. To do this, move your hand as if you are telling someone to come closer at the level of your shoulder.

4. Slow Down

Slow down signal bike

Slow down if you see this signal from road users in front of you [Photo: Stigma Sports]

Accidents are more likely to occur when you decide to slow down and make a turn. As such, it is important to know the hand signal on how to indicate road users that you are slowing down. Move your hand to the side with the back of your hand facing the front. Flap your hand as if you paddling a boat and this should tell road users tailing you that they should slow down as well.

5. Stop

Hand signal for stop in a car

Hand signals can slightly vary in some countries

If you decide to go to a full stop, then you should put your fist up with your arm in 90 degrees when riding a bike and downwards in an open hand position when driving a car. Before signaling this, make sure that there is no car coming up fast as you might collide with each other. We also recommend that you signal stop ahead of time to avoid sudden braking. Not only will signaling ahead of time keep you safer, but it can also prevent your brakes from wearing faster.

6. Point to road hazards

Point to road hazard hand signal

Practice keeping the road safer for all users [Photo: Stigma Sports]

Some roads come with imperfections such as potholes or uneven surfaces. These flaws can be bad for all modes of transportation especially if the damage is huge. When riding a bike, your visibility is wider as compared to those in a car. As such, if you see a pothole or any road hazard, you can point to signal road users behind you to avoid that part of the road.

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Rex Sanchez

Rex Sanchez


Rex started off his career in the aviation industry before entering Philkotse as a staff writer. Two things excite him the most: first is staying up to speed with the latest news in the industry that uses engines as their heart and soul. The second is imparting them in a well-detailed manner. His passion for anything with wheels started when he was young – from Tamiyas to family-friendly sedans, and anything in between.

Someday, Rex only wishes to drive on random highways with friends in a third-gen Mitsubishi Delica with aftermarket sunroofs, if he couldn’t get the Starwagon Super Exceed edition.

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