When you’re riding in a motorcycle group, communicating is key. However, noise from the bikes and the wind means that the spoken—or shouted—word is unreliable.

Traditionally, bikers rely on well-known hand signals to communicate while on the road together. Here are seven common hand signals that you should learn to recognize:

  1. Road Hazard. The rider in front is responsible for pointing out any potential dangers to the group. He may either point to a visible road hazard or lift his foot away from the bike to signal a hazard.
  2. Double File. Motorcyclists are allowed to ride two abreast in Maryland if road conditions permit. The leader can signal to other riders that it is now safe to ride double file by holding up two fingers.
  3. Single File. The leader will hold up his or her pointer finger. This signals riders of a narrow spot where riding two abreast is either dangerous for the riders or hinders the usual flow of traffic.
  4. Slow Down. When approaching a signal light or slowing traffic, the rider in front may signal the riders to slow down by lowering an outstretched arm, palm facing down.
  5. Speed Up. Similarly, when the leader raises a hand, palm facing up, to straight out horizontal, this signal tells riders that it is now safe to increase speed.
  6. Stop. When the lead rider holds his or her hand in a downward perpendicular motion (90 degrees) with the palm facing back, this signals the group to stop.
  7. Pull Off Road. The leader will signal the group to pull off the road by moving one hand over his or her head as if pointing toward a (right) exit.

Ask your leader if there are any other signals you should know before the group leaves. Communication is one of the biggest keys to making sure that you and everyone in your group has a safe, enjoyable ride free of a serious Maryland motorcycle accident.

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