What Do Motorcyclists Hand Signals Actually Mean?
If you don’t ride a motorbike yourself, you may have seen motorcyclists using hand signals and wondered what they meant before. While some of them are fairly obvious, others are less easy to figure out, and if you are a road user then you could definitely benefit from knowing what the different signals mean.
Being able to interpret what a motorcyclist is trying to communicate to you is important, as they could be warning you of danger up ahead, or just letting you know their intentions if they have an indicator out or a busted brake light.
Similarly, if you are learning to ride a motorbike you will definitely benefit from learning these signals and using them when you are riding. When you are riding a motorbike you want to make sure that you are as visible to other road users as possible, and that they are aware of your intentions.
This will greatly increase your safety and help to prevent accidents and injury, and it is also just really handy to be able to communicate with other riders, whether you are riding as a group or just spot a passing motorcyclist. Although you can buy communication systems for groups, this doesn’t help you much if you need to alert a road user who isn’t in your party.
So what are the key hand signals you should learn? We thought we’d run through a few common signals and what they actually mean.
Hand turn signals
Although motorcycles do have indicators, sometimes motorcyclists need to use hand signals instead in the event that their indicators don’t work.
For a left turn or to change lanes to the left, it’s an extended arm to the left with the palm facing downward, and for the same but to the right, it’s a left arm held upwards at a 90-degree angle with the fist clenched.
Hazards up ahead
A good signal to know to alert road users to any hazards on the road, and definitely a good one to know even if you don’t ride yourself. Even if you drive a car, look out for motorcyclists letting you know there is something up ahead to watch out for. It could be something that could damage your car or unsafe driving conditions.
The hand signal to communicate any upcoming hazards is usually the left hand pointing to the road to indicate a hazard on the left hand side, or a right foot pointing to indicate a hazard on the right.
If you see a biker extend their left arm and then immediately drop it down, this usually means that there is a sharp turn ahead and that you should slow down. This one is less commonly used, but still important to know.
These are just a few of the most important hand signals to keep an eye out for, but there are plenty more. If you would like to see a more in depth list of hand signals or are struggling to picture what any of the above look like, this handy infographic from Motorbike Trader is really helpful for illustrating all the hand signals you need to know.