Driving Hand Signals

The following WheelZine article will shed some light on the varied driving hand signals that are used by drivers. These come in handy to maintain safety while driving as well as while preparing for the Driver's License Permit Test.
WheelZine Staff
Last Updated: Mar 16, 2018
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Hand signals are an extremely crucial and important part of driving. Applying these signals allows a driver to communicate his driving intentions (for the lack of a better word) with the others on the road. Hand signals were developed as an important tool of non-verbal communication such that there would be clarity in action, ambiguity would be arrested, and thereby safety maintained.
Interestingly, these hand signals are universal, in that, they are used by drivers, cyclists, and motorcyclists. This makes it simpler to understand, learn, and use them. Though these signals may differ from one country to the other, the most basic forms of signals are generally followed all over the world.
In the following section of this WheelZine article, we will go into a brief understanding of what these signals are and what they signify, such that you can learn what these mean and how to use them.
Hand Signals Explained
In America, since the driver's seat is placed on the left side of the vehicle, the left arm is used to indicate the varied signals. This position will change according to the country that the car is being driven in and the placement of the driver's side. These signals can be easily followed and understood by the cars driving behind the driver and help in maintaining safety and order on the roads.

The following are the most basic signals that are used while driving.
LEFT TURN
Aim:
  • To indicate that the vehicle is turning left.
Directions:
  • Extend your left arm straight out of the window.
  • Keep the palm facing the road ahead such that the vehicles behind can see the back of your hand.
RIGHT TURN
Aim:
  • To indicate that the vehicle is turning right.
Directions:
  •  Extend your left arm straight out of the window.
  • Place your upper arm on the window base and lift your forearm towards the sky, such that the back of the hand is visible to the vehicles behind.
ALTERNATE RIGHT TURN
** Note: This signal is only used by cyclist and motorcyclists.

Aim:
  • To indicate that the cyclist/motorcyclist is turning right.
Directions:
  • Extend your right arm straight out of the window.
  • Keep the palm facing the road ahead such that the vehicles behind can see the back of your hand.
STOP/SLOWING DOWN SIGNAL
Aim:
  • To indicate that the vehicle is stopping or slowing down.
Directions:
  • Extend your left arm straight out of the window.
  • Place your upper arm on the window base and lower your forearm to the ground, such that the palm is visible to the vehicles behind.
OBSTACLE SIGNAL
Aim:
  • To indicate that there is an obstacle on the road such that the vehicle behind lowers its speed.
Directions:
  • Extend your left arm straight out of the window.
  • Next, point down to the road with the pointer finger fully extended.
ASKING THE OTHER DRIVER TO REDUCE SPEED
Aim:
  • To indicate to the vehicle behind to reduce its speed.
Directions:
  • Extend your left arm straight out of the window.
  • Open the palm of your left hand and let it face the road. At the same time, push the palm down slowly.
ASKING THE OTHER DRIVER TO STOP
Aim:
  • To indicate to the vehicle behind to stop.
Directions:
  • Extend your left arm straight out of the window.
  • Open the palm of your hand and let it directly face the oncoming driver.
Most of the basic hand signals are the same in most countries. The difference lies in whether the country uses the right-hand drive or the left-hand drive. Along with the signals listed above, there are certain other signals which are also very culture-specific.
While these signals cover the basics, it is advised that one always refers to a driver's handbook in accordance to the country, and, more importantly, the province they are in, in order to always follow the right signals and maintain road safety.