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Although motorcycle hand gestures are something that most riders learn as part of their motorcycle license exams, often they are forgotten and not used when actually needed. For example, if your signal lights are damaged, or if you’re riding in a large group, communication between riders via hand signals are critical to staying safe at all times. Here’s a useful infographic to help serve as a refresher for some of the more common hand signals.

Click to enlarge:

Motorcycle Hand Signals Chart

left turn

Left turn

For letting the group know you are turning left. The signal can be used to break from or to lead the group, depending on whether you are leading or following. Make the signal by extending your left arm straight out with your palm facing down.

 

right turn

Right turn 

Let the group know you are turning right. Use this signal to lead or to break from the group, depending on your status in the group (leading or following). Bend your elbow 90 degrees, then point your clenched fist at the sky to complete the signal.

 

stop

Stop

When the leader of the group makes the “stop” signal, it should cause a chain reaction going all the way back to the last rider in the group. Make the signal by bending your arm 90 degrees, keeping your palm open, and pointing your fingers down at the road.

 

speed upSpeed Up

Inexperienced groups will benefit most from this signal. Experienced groups rely more on body language. Use it to tell the rest of the group to match your pace by increasing their speed. Extend your arm and swing your palm in an upward direction to give the signal.

 

slow down

Slow Down

This signal is useful because motorcycles generate intense engine-braking forces, which do not activate the rear-facing brake light. Extend your arm and swing your palm down toward the road to tell everyone in the group to slow down.

 

follow meFollow Me

Used to announce a new, often self-appointed group leader. Also used to segment a large group into a smaller group. Make the signal by extending your arm forward at the shoulder with your palm facing outward.

 

you lead-come

You Lead/Come

AKA the “YOU! Follow me!” signal. It has 2 distinct parts. Start by pulling up alongside the rider you want to follow or lead. In one motion, point to their bike and then swing your arm forward. Repeat this motion until the other rider understands.

 

hazard in roadway

Road Hazard

This is a “2 in 1” signal. The signal is different depending on whether the hazard is to the right or the left. If the hazard is on the left, point with your left arm. Point with your right foot if the hazard is on the right.

 

single file

Single File

An easy gesture. Extend your left index finger and bend your arm up to the sky. In other words, pretend the riders behind you are asking “How many?” and then indicate the answer by gesturing with your left pointer finger.

 

double file

Double File

Bend your left arm at the elbow and point to the sky with your index and middle fingers. Do not forget to include your index finger.

 

comfort stopComfort Stop

Poke your arm out to the left and shake your fist using short, up-and-down movements – as though shaking a can of paint. Make this stop only when the road or shoulder is debris-free and there is ample room to pull over.

 

refreshment stop

Refreshment Stop

Indicate your intention to stop at a gas station or restaurant. Make a “thumbs up” with your left hand and gesture toward your mouth (or the front of your helmet) as though your thumb is a straw poking up out of a glass of water.

 

turn signal on

 

Turn Signal On

To make a “blinking” gesture using your left hand, alternate between extending your fingers and making a fist. Use this signal to let another rider know he left his blinker on, allowing him to save face during the next comfort or refreshment stop.

 

pull off

Pull Off

Indicate to the rest of the group to pull off of the highway, either immediately or at the next exit. The pull off signal is given when the reason for the stop is something other than a comfort or refreshment stop.

 

cops ahead

Cops Ahead

Let your fellow riders know about police activity up the road by patting the top of your helmet with your left palm. Keep our communities’ police officers and other first responders safe. Use caution and respect all laws when riding your motorcycle.

 

fuel

Fuel

When riding with most groups, running out of gas will earn you a nickname you probably won’t like. Communicate your need to refuel by pointing to your fuel tank using your left index finger.

Most motorcycle hand signals are fairly intuitive, especially when combined with appropriate body language; however, new riders may be confused upon first seeing them.

When proper signaling is crucial to safety, like during large group rides or track days, important hand signals should be communicated during a pre-ride meeting.

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About Michael Padway

Michael Padway is a motorcycle accident attorney who lives and breathes motorcycles. He has been practicing law for over 35 years and riding for even longer. Riding motorcycles, writing about motorcycles and defending motorcyclists is what he does, and what he does best.
  • Banshee

    Hi Michael, looking at current motorcycle accident trends I have to say thank you for your passion regarding Motorcycle safety – anything that will increase a higher awareness to safety should be supported.
    Greg – http://www.screaming-banshee.com