Motorcycle Hand Signals

The law requires that Floridian motorcyclists have electric turn signals. It’s not a bicycle, and hand signals will not suffice. However, motorcycle hand signals are still an important part of motorcycle group rides. Understanding them can help to improve the safety, comfort, and happiness of everyone who tries to ride as a group. 

What are motorcycle hand signals? 

Motorcycle hand signals are gestures and positions of the hand that communicate to other riders. It may communicate that you are going to make a turn, or it may be that you want to stop at the next rest area. These signals communicate to other riders regardless of other methods of communication. They are a failsafe method used by many motorcycle groups. If one rider strays too far from the group and the Bluetooth communication disconnects, he or she can still communicate. The advantage is inarguable. 

Motorcycle Hand Signals

There are basic motorcycle hand signals that should be understood by every rider out on the road. These are considered a universal language that allow riders to communicate despite road noise, helmets, and other environmental factors that limit communication options. They are pretty basic, and each rider should have a good understanding of them. 

Directional Options: 

Like riding a bike, one of the classic reasons to use hand signals outside of a group is to indicate which direction you are going. This may be used because you don’t have a blinker, or the light is out. But it can also be used if you want people to better see your intentions. Lastly, if you are on a group ride, other riders will be able to clearly see where you are going. Here are the motorcycle hand signals for the different directions: 

  • Right turn: Left arm bent at 90 degrees, as if waving. 
  • Left turn: Left arm extended out at left side. 

Motorcycle Hand Signals Indicating Speed: 

A rider can also indicate whether he or she is speeding up or slowing down. This is especially useful if trying to ride in formation, as other riders can keep their spacing. 

  • Speed up: Left palm up with arm extended and waving up as if lifting something.
  • Slow down: Left palm down with arm extended and waving down as if pushing something.

Alerts from Motorcycle Hand Signals: 

Some signals are meant to alert riders to things they should know are coming up ahead. If the lead rider sees something, it is beneficial to all other riders if he or she can communicate. These alerts include: 

  • Cops ahead: Tapping on the top of your helmet with your left hand indicates an alert that there are police ahead. This could be to warn other riders to slow down to avoid a ticket. It could also alert riders that there is an incident up ahead, and they need to be cautious. 
  • Road hazard: Extending your left arm down and to the side along with pointing indicates that there is a road hazard. This allows anyone riding behind you to remain alert and look out for whatever danger lies ahead. 
  • Turn signal on: Putting your left arm out and opening and closing your hand repeatedly indicates a turn signal is on. This isn’t to indicate that the rider is about to turn. Rather, it is to indicate that another rider has forgotten to turn off their turn signal. 

Motorcycle Hand Signals for Basic Communication

Lastly, there are many signals motorcycle riders use, especially on group rides, that are really just basic communication. What they want to do in the future. It’s the stuff you may say to a driver while in a passenger vehicle. However, you cannot simply lean over and speak to other riders when you are on a motorcycle. Some of this basic communication is: 

  • Fuel stop: If one reader needs to stop for gas, he or she can signal this by pointing to the fuel tank. Extend the left arm, and point to the tank. 
  • I need a break: When a rider needs a break, he or she should extend the left arm downward and pulse it up and down with a clenched fist. 
  • Time for a snack: Needing a snack is different than needing a break because it is the difference between stopping at a store or a park. To signal this, put your left fist up to your helmet and point to your mouth with your thumb. 

Formation Motorcycle Hand Signals

All of the signals above can be used during a group ride. There are other motorcycle hand signals that indicate movement within the motorcycle formation. 

  • Single file: Holding your left hand up with your index finger extended as if to indicate a number 1 means all riders should ride single file. This may be necessary if there are road hazards or lots of corners that make double file not as safe. 
  • Double file: Returning to double file is as simple as changing your single finger to two fingers. Hold up two fingers, and your group ride should return to a double (albeit staggered) file ride. 

How Important are Motorcycle Hand Signals? 

If you are a beginning rider, motorcycle hand signals may not seem like the most important thing to have on your learning-to-ride checklist. However, it should be included at some point. Yes, being able to safely stop and go on hills or take corners at a safe speed are more important. But knowing how to communicate with other riders is also important if you are going to ride in a group. 

If you understand the hand signals used in motorcycle riding, it is almost like understanding the language of motorcycle riding. In fact, there is a collective greeting hand signal used by riders that is created by extending the left arm downward and showing a thumbs up or peace sign. You don’t want to be the new rider that waves at his or her friends while riding down the street. 

Knowledge is Motorcycle Safety

The more you know about the rules of the road and communication options for motorcycle riding, the better prepared you’ll be for any ride. You never really know when you’ll need a motorcycle hand signal. Maybe you end up riding next to a group by accident. Maybe you get invited on an impromptu ride. Knowing the signals simply makes the trip safer. You’ll be able to communicate with other riders and potentially other passenger vehicles. 

Safety is important because when riding a motorcycle, accidents can be deadly. Understanding motorcycle hand signals may not be as important as knowing how to inspect your bike prior to a ride, but every bit of knowledge you can gain about riding is helpful. You never want to be in a preventable accident because you didn’t understand what another rider was communicating. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should speak with an attorney. This is especially true if it doesn’t seem to be your fault, or you don’t feel it was completely your fault. The courts may award you complete or partial compensation for your damages. 

Contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz for a no-obligation consultation about your case. You’ll speak to an experienced attorney right away.

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