facebookThe 3 Hand Signals for Driving Fully Explained - Driver's Guide
Hand Signals for Driving: The 3 Basic Driving Hand Signals Explained

Hand Signals for Driving: The 3 Basic Driving Hand Signals Explained

Zutobi

by Zutobi · Updated Nov 30, 2020

All drivers must know and understand the hand signals that are used to communicate different actions like turning, changing lanes, or braking. You must be able to recognize the hand signals of other road users even if you do not need to use them yourself. You may also be required to show the 3 basic hand signals on the driving test.

Hand signals are used to communicate with other drivers in situations where your car lights malfunction. In addition, cyclists, skateboarders, and scooter-riders commonly use hand signals as they lack other signaling devices. Understanding hand signals is essential to keep yourself and others safe.

What are the Hand Signals for Driving?

There are 3 basic driver hand signals:

  • Slowing down or stopping – indicted by extending your arm downward with your palm facing backward
  • Left turn –  indicated by an arm straight out through the window
  • Right turn – indicated by extending your arm at a 90° angle upwards

In this article, we’ll go through when and how to use them if need be. The hand signals are the same in all U.S. states.

Slow Down or Stop Hand Signal

driver using hand signal to slow down or stop

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 that you are slowing down or stopping by extending your arm downward with your palm facing backward. Make sure your arm is clearly visible to other drivers behind you.

By using this hand signal you will 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, warning other drivers of your intentions can be the difference between being in an accident or not. 

Left Turn Hand Signal

driver using hand signal to turn left

You need to use a hand signal to indicate a left turn before changing lanes to the left or turning left. The left turn hand signal is indicated by an 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.

Right Turn Hand Signal

driver using hand signal to turn right

You need to use a hand signal to indicate a right turn before changing lanes to the right or turning right. The right turn hand signal is indicated by extending your arm at a 90° angle upwards with your palm facing forward.

As you change lanes to your right, you should be aware that vehicles that are already on your right side won’t be able to see the hand signals you make from your driver’s seat. Display immense caution before changing lanes or turning to the right when you use hand signals.

When Should Hand Signals Be Used?

Every US state has laws that require you to signal your intention(s) to others. This means you must use hand-signals when your turn indicators are malfunctioning or your signal lights are obscured by bright sunshine or vehicles (e.g. in a queue).

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. 

lazy
The 3 hand signals for driving in the United States</div>

Using Hand Signals at Night

At night the darkness will mean that nobody will be able to see hand signals. If your turn indicators or brake lights are not working you must not drive at night until they have been repaired.

Hand Signals for the Driving Test

On the driving test, your examiner will ask you to show one or several hand signals. Using the wrong hand signal is serious as a driver must have knowledge of hand signals to properly follow the rules of the road. 

Before you go to the driving test, practice the hand signals at home until you know them by heart. Remember, you don’t want to fail your driving test or be the one causing an accident because you misunderstood another driver’s hand signals.

Take our full course with tests and theory

  • 450+ exam-like questions
  • All you need to ace your test
  • Perfect for first-timers, renewals and senior citizens
cloud
town
How To Transfer Your Driver&#8217;s License When Moving to Another State
Car

How To Transfer Your Driver’s License When Moving to Another State

Moving to another state is a very exciting time in one’s life. For some, this move might be the first time they’re experiencing a land other than the one they grew up knowing their entire life. There are a plethora of factors to consider when deciding to move out of state. In this guide, we’ll […]

Zutobi

by Zutobi · Updated Nov 30, 2020

Right-of-Way Rules at Controlled Intersections &#8211;  What to Do When Facing Stop and Yield Signs
Car

Right-of-Way Rules at Controlled Intersections – What to Do When Facing Stop and Yield Signs

What Are the Rules When Facing a STOP Sign? When facing a STOP sign, you must come to a full stop at the stop line and yield the right-of-way to all vehicles and pedestrians in or approaching the intersection.  Follow these 6 STOP sign rules when driving to avoid pedestrian and car accidents: If there […]

Zutobi

by Zutobi · Updated Nov 27, 2020

One-Way Streets: What They Are, Rules, and Signs
Car

One-Way Streets: What They Are, Rules, and Signs

If you’re studying for the knowledge exam, understanding how to identify and navigate a one-way road is vital to passing the test. Maybe you’re a veteran driver who’s looking to brush up on some core driving subjects – one-way roads can be very confusing and often cause accidents at higher rates than two-way roads. However, […]

Zutobi

by Zutobi · Updated Nov 23, 2020