With over 8 million motorcycles on the road, it’s an inevitability that at some point, you’ll have to share the road with them. However, there are ways, apart from caution and vigilance, to improve your road relationship with your two-wheeled counterparts. By learning the following motorcycle hand signals, anticipating the moves of bikers will prove easier than ever before. Here’s a few you simply must know.
Left and Right Turns
Hopefully, most motorcyclists have functional turn signals, but if they don’t, it’s important to know when they’re turning or changing lanes. If motorcyclists plan on turning left or switching lanes to the left, they extend their arm straight out to the left. Conversely, if they’re looking to turn right or switch lanes to the right, they put their arm out to the left, bend at the elbow, and extend the arm upwards. In an ideal world, motorcyclists would include this with their turn signal. However, that isn’t always the case. At least you’ll have the awareness to know their next move.
Tapping the Helmet
So maybe this isn’t a life-saving signal to know, but it’s definitely helpful to avoid getting pulled over by a cop. When you see a motorcyclist tapping the top of his or her helmet several times, it’s a signal to other riders that there’s a cop somewhere in the vicinity. If you weren’t breaking the law, it’s not a huge deal. However, if you have a lead foot, it’s something you should look out for.
Another important signal to learn is the sign for road hazards. Most often, bikers use their left hand on the left side or their right leg on the right side to point out hazards in the road such as oil spills, debris, and potholes. When you see a biker do this, look out for things on the road, as it can cause damage to your vehicle or unsafe driving conditions. If you can, use the same signal if you see debris on the left side of your vehicle, although it’s difficult to signal debris on the right-hand side.
This is one of the rarer hand signals used by bikers, but it is nevertheless important. This signal is the left arm extended, which is then dropped immediately downward. When you see this, it’s typically the sign for a sharp, yet unmarked turn. When you see this signal, it’s best to slow down, not only for your own safety but also so you don’t end up in a collision with a motorcycle. However, if this motion is in the opposite direction, meaning the arm is down and then raised upwards, it’s a sign the motorcyclist is going to speed up. If that’s the case, it’s best to avoid any of the bikers altogether.
When it comes to the safety of motorcyclists and you, nothing’s more important than knowing these hand signals. Not only will it help you navigate the roads, but it also gives you respect from fellow bikers and an understanding of their driving habits.