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Using bike hand signals can prevent bike-car accidents

Learn the basic bicycle hand signals to protect yourself and helping drivers understand your next move

Rule No. 1 is wearing your helmet, and it’s one of the best things you can do while riding your bicycle. But what is Rule No. 2?  I would say knowing and using your bike hand signals.

Riding your bicycle safely is your responsibility, and learning how to ride safely can go a long way to preventing  bike-car accidents. That means knowing how to communicate your intended direction to drivers of automobiles using universal bicycle hand signals.

Here’s a simple video I found on how to use hand signals on a bicycle:

In short:

bicycle hand signals

You signal with your left arm.

Left turn: About 50 yards before the turn, extend your left arm to the left, perpendicular to your body, and extend your hand. Make your way from the right side of the road into the turn lane. Always glance backward before you initiate your turn to be sure (as best you can) that the other drivers see you.

Right turn: About 25 yards before you turn right, raise your left arm with the elbow bent 90 degrees, and your hand pointing skyward. Make your way into the right turn lane. Check for traffic before you make your turn.

It’s also acceptable to extend your right arm to the right, perpendicular to your body with your hand extended.

Stop: About 50 yards before your stop, raise your left elbow so it’s perpendicular to your body. Point your fingers down to the pavement, with your palm facing the traffic behind you. Hold the position until you come to a stop.

Safety tip: Drivers of cars and motorcyclists whose brake lights are not working can also use the same signals.

Lawyer tip: I’m now seeing defense insurance lawyers in bike-car accident lawsuits alleging comparative fault and putting comparative negligence on the verdict forms for an injured bicyclist not using hand signals – even when it is clear that fault lies with the driver of the car.

Safe riding this summer everyone!

Related information:

Bike helmet saves Michigan Auto Law secretary’s eye – and a list of bicycle safety tips

Does a motorcyclist have to obey the same traffic laws as a motorist?

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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