hand signals for driving

Hand Signals for Driving: The 2 Basic Driving Hand Signals Explained

by Zutobi · Updated Sep 29, 2021

Hand signals are used to communicate with other drivers in situations when your car lights malfunction or to reinforce direction indicator signals and stop lights.

All drivers must know and understand the hand signals that are used to communicate different actions like slowing down, stopping, or turning to the right. You must be able to recognise the hand signals used by other road users even if you do not need to use them yourself.

What are the Hand Signals for Driving?

Understanding hand signals is essential to keep yourself and others safe. There are 2 basic hand signals used in Australia:

  • Slow down or stop – indicated by an arm bent upwards.
  • Move right or turn to the right – indicated by a straight arm out the window.

In this article, we’ll go through when and how to use them if need be. Keep in mind that these hand signals are used in Australia and may be different in other countries.

Slow Down or Stop Hand Signal

If your brake lights are functioning, they will light up and communicate to other drivers any time you press the brake pedal.

Without brake lights, you can indicate your intention to slow down or stop by an arm bent upwards as shown in the illustration. Make sure your arm is clearly visible to other drivers behind you.

Use the hand signal early to give driver’s behind you time to adjust and slow down even if they are following closely behind. Due to how prevalent tailgating and rear-accidents are in Australia, warning other drivers of your intentions can be the difference between being in an accident or not.

Right Turn Hand Signal

You also need to signal if you intend to move or turn to the right. The right turn hand signal is indicated by extending your arm straight out through the window.

Make sure you extend the arm far enough to be visible to other drivers but without striking any other vehicles or objects with your arm.

When Should Hand Signals Be Used?

Driving laws across Australia require each driver to signal his or her intention(s) to other road users. This means you must use hand-signals when your turn indicators are malfunctioning or your signal lights are obscured by bright sunshine or vehicles.

In general, using hand signals is a short-term solution that should only be used to transport your vehicle to a place where the problem can be solved or to handle an immediate situation. Do not rely on hand signals for an extended period as the chance of a crash will be far higher than normal.

Using Hand Signals at Night

At night it will be so dark that nobody will be able to see your hand signals. If your turn indicators or brake lights are not working and it is dark outside, postpone the trip until the lights have been repaired.

Take our full course with tests and theory

550+ exam-like questions

All you need to ace your test

Free trial

Ace your learners test, guaranteed