Have you ever been riding behind a car and without warning the car stops or turns? Brake lights warn us when a vehicle is slowing down, but unless the driver uses their turn signal,it’s difficult to know what they will do next. Drivers are required by law to use turn signals, but what about hand signals for cyclists?

Turn signals

In the state of Florida, turn signals are required for bikers. Although your bicycle isn’t sold with turn signals, hand signals, and other devices can help notify drivers and pedestrians when you are turning or stopping.The reason you must use turn signals or hand signals when you ride your bike, is to stay safe and avoid potential accidents. As you may know, an accident on a bicycle can result in serious injury or death, so using signals can protect yourself and other people on the road.

Using your turn signals or hand signals could be the difference between a relaxing ride and a fatal accident. Be watchful when turning or coming to a stop sign. If an automobile driver doesn’t know what you are doing, they could hit you. Here is a breakdown of the hand signals you should use:

  • Left turn
    • Extend your left arm straight out to the left. You can use an open palm or if you would rather, point to the left with your index finger.
  • Right turn
    • Extend your left arm out. Bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle. As for your hand, most people just hold it up, palm open. Others point to the right with their left index finger.
  • Slow or stop
    • The correct way to signal for slowing down or stopping is to hold your left arm away from the body with palm open and pointing down. Some people extend their left arm straight and bend the arm at the elbow with the lower arm pointing down.

Common accidents

One of the most common accidents occurs at stop signs when a cyclist and driver are at a four-way stop. Often, the cyclist is crossing the street when the driver hits them because the driver did not know if they were turning or traveling straight. Accidents can happen at any time. Make eye contact with other drivers, and ride defensively to avoid collisions with cars or trucks. Obey stops signs and follow the same laws as motorists to stay safe on the road.

What is someone doesn’t see your signals?

Sometimes you have the right of way. Other times you are doing everything correctly, and you are still in danger of a vehicle not obeying the laws, forcing you off the road, or making you stop, when they should be yielding to you. It is not fair, and it is illegal.

If someone does not recognize your turn signal or refuses to acknowledge it; let them go. If you came to a complete stop at an intersection and a car is still coming, do not assume they are going to stop. Wait until you see them slow down or stop before you go.

Of course, you can get their license number and report them to the police. But the most important thing is your safety. When a large 18-wheeler is coming at you and not showing signs of stopping, it might make you angry, but you let it pass you. It is better to wait for traffic and live than gamble with your life on the road.