Home Automotive AdviceVehicle Safety Hand Signals While Driving – When You Should Use Them?

Hand Signals While Driving – When You Should Use Them?

by Jordan Harris
Hand Signals While Driving

Are your turn signals broken and you are asking yourself which are the hand signals and how to use hand signals while driving? If that is the case, you are in the right place because we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to using hand signals while driving and more.

Using hand signals in these modern times may sound old-fashioned. But it is essential when it comes to avoiding accidents in some situations. Imagine that your turn signals are not working and you want to make a turn on the next intersection. But you notice how the turn signals are not working on your car.

In this situation, the only way to get out of this situation without causing a major incident is to use your hand. This is essential because if you don’t use your hand, nobody will notice that you are turning and someone could hit you and cause a major incident with possibly fatal consequences. And you don’t want that. That’s why we are going to help you learn the hand signals in this article.

In this article, we are going to learn what are hand signals and when you should use them. Then we will go through each of them and when to use hand signals while driving. This is essential for you to know if you want to avoid some situations that are potentially dangerous. Then we will discuss why your turn signals could not be working and how to fix them. So, without further ado, let’s discuss.

What Are Hand Signals? – Hand Signals While Driving

Before we move on, we need to start from the basics and learn more about what these signals are.

Hand signals are basically the driver’s intentions that you want to perform while in traffic. In most of the world, hand signals are only used for cyclists and this is a law under the Vienna Convention on Traffic.

But in some countries like the US. These laws are for all participants in traffic. It doesn’t matter that you are a cyclist or you drive a car. If you drive a car and your signal equipment malfunctions, you have to use hand signals in order to drive in traffic safely.

Using these hand signals will save you from many dangerous situations on the road because other drivers will be able to see what your intentions are and you will be able to alert the drivers and make a turn or other maneuver safely.

Many drivers do not even use turn signals or hand signals. This is bad practice and that’s why there are hundreds of accidents on the road because of these irresponsible drivers that do not comply with the law.

Using hand signals while driving will not just make you a better driver. But a better person as well, since you will show that you care about other participants in traffic and the safety of yourself and your occupants.

Don’t be irresponsible and drive without any signalization. Because later the outcomes could be devastating. That’s why you need to learn when you should use the hand signals and then we will learn how to use them. So, follow along.

When Should You Use Them?

We learned what are turn signals and now it’s time to learn when to use them. This is key to knowing if you are a participant in the traffic and you want to be safe and assure the safety of the other participants in the traffic. So, which are these situations? Let’s elaborate.

Cars are the key focus in this article, so we are going to elaborate more on when you as a driver should use the turn signals.

As we know cars are not perfect and they are prone to malfunctions. Sometimes even the blinkers can fail and cause you a situation like this where you will not have any other alternative. Then using the hand signals in order to drive without a problem.

Hand Signals While Driving

Personally, I had a situation like this. My front left light bulb has failed and my blinker wasn’t working when I turned it on. I haven’t noticed it at first glance. But once when I was turning, I noticed how the driver in the opposite direction didn’t slow down. And as a matter of a fraction of a second that I avoided a collision that could have been fatal. But I thought that the driver is some maniac that didn’t know how to drive when I had a similar situation a few days later.

Then I came to the conclusion that there is something wrong with my turning signals. Then I turned the signals on and I noticed how the left one wasn’t working at all. Since I noted that the turn signal isn’t working. I got into the car and I was using hand signals until I replaced the bulb that failed.

That’s why, when you notice a similar situation on the road. Make sure that your signalization is working perfectly fine.

How Do The Hand Signals Look Like?

Now it’s time to learn these turn signals for you to have a better idea of how to react in these situations if your blinkers aren’t working. Knowing this will be extremely useful because you will instantly know how to react to the situation. Because traffic doesn’t wait for you to be ready and google what to do. You need to be quick and extra sharp. That’s why to google in advance “hand signals when driving” or follow this chapter till the end to learn all of these signals.

There are three hand signals while driving that you can use. These signals can indicate that you are stopping, turning left, or turning right. For each of them, you need to roll down the window of your car to properly show to all the participants in the traffic what are your intentions. Now let’s see which are these signals.

Left Turn

So, you want to do a left turn, what should you do in this situation? In this situation, you need to roll down the window first and raise your hand up in the air.

Make sure that you hold it steady at a 180-degree angle from your elbow and your palm straight all the time. This will make sure that the driver who is behind you or in front is going to notice that action and will react accordingly.

Just be aware because there are a ton of reckless drivers around. Make sure that when you put your hand straight to the left that there is no traffic behind you. Especially, no cars that want to overtake. If there is a car behind that is speeding and you place your hand it could break your arm in an instant. That’s why better be aware than sorry later.

Right Turn

Now let’s say that you want to turn right. Turning right is different than turning left. Again, you need to roll down the window and put your arm out.

What is different when turning right is that you place your hand at an angle of 90 degrees. Turning left was 180 degrees and turning right is 90 degrees. Which means that your hand should be pointing upwards to the sky.

Similarly, to taking a left turn, when turning right, your palm fingers should be close and touching with no space. Because if there is space, someone will think that you are waving your hand instead of giving a signal. This is a key to knowing not to give the wrong information.

You should also be aware of traffic and speeding vehicles when you put your hand out of the window. There are all kinds of people driving and someone could crush your hand if you are not self-aware of the dangers of this practice.

Stop Sign

The last signal of the hand signals while driving that you have to know is the signal for stopping. Imagine that your stoplights aren’t working at the rear and you don’t have any other choice than use your hand to inform the car that is behind that you are stopping. What should you do?

In order to give the driver at the rear the right information, you should roll down the window and put your hand out. Then turn the hand down at a 90-degree angle from the elbow.

This will be a clear indication for the one that is at the back that something is going on and that you are stopping. Even if he doesn’t know the signal, only the hand down when shown is going to alert him that something isn’t right and he needs to follow you.

Also, similar to other signals. Pay attention to the traffic, make sure that no one is speeding behind you. If there are speeders, slow down, let them pass and then put your arm outside of the window to indicate that you are coming to a complete stop. Then, when you will put the car into gear show those behind you one of the previous signals of you turning left or right.

Overall hand signals while driving are fairly easy to use. But you need to be aware of the traffic and when to put your hand out of the window, because there can be some dangerous situations if you are not careful enough.

Can I Use Hand Signals At Night?

This is a good question. And the short answer is no. During the night, this type of signalization is not viable and you should not even run a car under these circumstances. This is the case because if you want to run a car during the night. Your signalization needs to be properly working and in good condition even before you think of opening the door and starting your car.

If police notice you at night with malfunctioning signalization. It is highly likely that you will get fined and in some situations, your driving license can be revoked. Since driving like this during the night is pretty reckless. You don’t put only yourself in danger, but also the people behind you.

Imagine that your rear tail lights don’t work and the driver behind you doesn’t even see you on the road. It could crash in you at great speed and possibly fatally hurt you. That’s why driving at night with hand signals is not good and you should never do it.

If something happens along the road and your blinkers or tail light stop working all of a sudden. Then you can use hand signals while driving until you reach a gas station where you can get these things fixed. Or to pull over at the side of the road and wait for roadside assistance.

Either way, not all drivers will notice that you pull out your hand outside during the night and might crash into you anyway. That’s why always make sure that your car before you even think of going anywhere is in proper working order and everything is functioning right. So, you don’t have to use hand signals while driving during the night.

Do I Need To Learn The Hand Signals For My Driving Test?

Yes, if you still haven’t passed the driving test, you will have to learn the hand signals while driving. This article would be good information for you if you are a beginner and you want to get your driving license.

Because not only that we teach you the hand signals that you need if you want to drive a car with bad signalization equipment. But we also teach you which things you need to pay attention to the most and make sure that you don’t get yourself hurt along the way.

And also, this article will be a good step forward to passing this test with a perfect score.

Can I Use Hand Signals While Driving If My Turn Signals Are Ok?

No, you should never use hand signals while driving if your turn signals and tail lights are in proper working order. Why you should use something when the right tooling is there and is properly working?

Using this type of signalization is the last resort that you have and you should always try to avoid it and make sure that there is a better alternative.

Also, as we mentioned by using this type of hand signalization you are putting yourself and other drivers in danger. Because most drivers are primarily focusing on electronic signalization than observing someone’s hand signals.

Not to mention that there are a lot of reckless drivers that not only put themselves in danger. But also put you in danger and considering that you are using only hand gestures could be extra dangerous in real-life situations.

That’s why use hand signals when driving only when you need it the most and that is when the real electric signals of your vehicle have failed and you have no other alternative than using this signalization.

My Turn Signal Is Broken Why Is This Happening?

Turn signals or brake lights can break or end up malfunctioning for several reasons. Usually, when these malfunctions happen you need to activate your hands and make hand signals when driving. That’s why you need to learn why these problems occur in the first place and make sure that you solve them quickly and effectively.

Hand Signals While Driving

The only need for this purpose is the troubleshooting skill. You need to learn to troubleshoot in order to find the real culprit for the problem that is happening. And troubleshooting isn’t that difficult after all. You first need to learn the possibility of why this problem of a malfunctioned turn signal or malfunctioned brake light happens in the first place. Then connect the dots in your mind and look to solve your problem.

When it comes to the bad turn signal, there are a few options on the table. There are primarily three reasons why your turn signal isn’t working and we are going to cover them now in great detail for you to have a better perspective and know where to look.

Bad Connection

The first and most obvious reason why your light bulb isn’t working and you need to use hand signals while driving is a bad connection.

Your car goes over bumps all the time and one of these bumps has probably loosened up the connector of your turn signal. The first thing you need to do is to check the connection. Make sure that the connector is all in and it doesn’t have any play. If you made sure that it’s ok and it still doesn’t work then you need to move on to the next step.

Bad Light Bulb

A bad light bulb will probably be the next thing that you will take a look at. The bulbs can burn off and stop working all of a sudden and make you use hand signals while driving as well.

That’s why you need to see if your bulb is in ok condition. Remove the bulb, and if you notice that the bulb is burnt. Then this is your culprit and you have solved your problem. Just go and grab a light bulb from the parts store and you are good to go. But what if the light bulb is good but the turn signal is still not working.

Blown Fuse

The next thing that you will need to check in this case will be to open your fuse box. The fuse box is usually located in the engine bay and this box is a big black box.

Remove the cover and see the schematics on the back. Find the fuse that is in charge of the blinkers and see if it’s in ok condition. If the fuse is burnt, then you will have to replace it. Just get a replacement fuse for a dollar at your local parts store. Make sure that is at the same strength level and you will be good to go. If not, move on to the next one.

Bad Flasher Unit

Sometimes the flasher relay can go bad as well and cause the lights not to work properly. This flasher relay is usually located in the cabin fuse box which is located right below the steering column.

Remove the cover that is covering the fuses for the cabin and take a look at the flasher relay. Replace it with a replacement component that is designed for your vehicle and you will be good to go. If you want to test the old flasher and see if it’s any good you can do it with a multimeter.

You will need to set your multimeter to the ohm setting and check the resistance. If there is resistance it means that the flasher unit is good. If there is no resistance, then the flasher unit is damaged and needs replacement with a new OEM component specific to your vehicle.

Usually, these are the components that often go wrong and cause blinker or brake light malfunction. You just need to learn some troubleshooting and also learn where the fuse boxes are. There are three of them. One in the engine bay for the engine and blinkers, then one under the steering column for the flasher relay and other cabin components, and the one in the trunk that is in charge of the rear taillights and other componentry. Based on this information, you should know where to look.

If you still haven’t solved your problem, then consider visiting a car electrician. He is going to fix it up really quick for you. You will pay some money. But the end result will be perfect.

Facts: Hand Signals for Driving

  • Hand signals and gestures are commonly used to convey thoughts and intentions in everyday life, including while driving.
  • Hand turning signals are gestures used by cyclists, motorists in cars and trucks, moped drivers, and motorcycles to indicate their intentions to turn left, turn right, or come to a stop since not all vehicles have turning signals.
  • Failure to use proper signaling while driving is a major cause of American roadway accidents.
  • The three basic hand signals for driving that every motorist and cyclist should be familiar with are left turn, right turn, and slowing down/stopping.
  • Hand signals for driving have a history that dates back to before cars had built-in blinkers, and they are still legally required in the United States if a motorist does not have functioning signal lights.
  • Proper hand signal technique involves using obvious arm movements, signaling 100 to 200 feet before turning or changing lanes, prioritizing safety, and not using hand signals at night.
  • Hand signals are legal and encouraged to use when your lights are malfunctioning or broken, especially since malfunctioning lights are a leading cause of vehicle injuries and fatalities.
  • Motorcyclists and cyclists have their own set of hand signals that are understood by other riders and are essential for those riding in groups or with damaged signal lights.
  • Knowing basic hand signals is an essential skill to help prevent accidents and traffic, and taking a defensive driving course can also improve driving safety.

Conclusion – Hand Signals While Driving

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to hand signals. We learned what hand signals are and when you should use them. Then we have learned the three basic hand signals when driving that everyone should know.

These were the signals for turning left, turning right, and slowing down. Then we explained if you should use these signals during the night and the answer was no. Because driving at night with no signalization is dangerous and prohibited.

Lastly, we have covered the possible reasons why your blinker or brake light might stop working and what are the proper solutions for this issue.

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