How to Use Hand Signals

Tips for New Riders 

Riding an ATV on the trails is a thrilling experience. It’s an exciting way to travel and to explore nature. If you’re new to ATVing it is important to familiarize yourself with safe practices for trail riding, to ensure everyone on the trail has a safe and enjoyable excursion.

To be as visible and safe as possible on the trails, ATV riders normally wear high visibility clothing, turn on headlights and taillights, and use hand signals. It’s important to communicate where you are going when you are riding, and using hand signals is an effective way to let others know where you are going on the trails.

By making certain movements with one arm, while steering with the other, you can inform other motorists and pedestrians where you are going. Before hitting the trails, ensure your safety by familiarizing yourself with these basic hand signals below. Inexperienced riders are encouraged to keep both hands on their steering to keep their ATV under control.

Stop: Raise the arm from the shoulder and extend the elbow straight over the head, keeping the hand open. 

Right Turn: Raise the left arm at shoulder height, bend the elbow and the forearm straight with the hand open. 

Left Turn: Extend the left arm straight out and point to the turn. 

Slow: Extend the left arm out and flap arm in a downward motion. 

Oncoming ATV: Raise the left arm at shoulder height, bend the elbow and forearm straight and wave the hand in forward motion. 

Traffic Behind: Raise the left arm at shoulder height, bend the elbow and forearm straight and wave the hand in backward motion. 

Last in Group: Raise the left arm at shoulder height, bend the elbow and forearm straight and make fist with the hand. 

Pointing out a hazard: Extend the left arm out and point with a finger to the hazard, generally at an angle downward to the trail, or up above to a hazard overhead.

Group Riding 

When travelling in groups, ATV riders use a finger numbering system to notify those approaching how many ATV’s are still behind. When a leader holds up 5 fingers, it means there are 5 or more riders approaching. 

In this example, there are 6 ATV riders travelling in a group. The leader of the group will slow down when approaching oncoming traffic and will hold up 5 fingers. This will notify the oncoming traffic that there are 5 or more riders approaching behind them. Each rider will hold up the number of riders remaining (4, 3, 2, 1) until they safely pass. Finally, the last rider in the group will hold up a fist to signify that they are the final ATV rider in the group. 

Using these guidelines when ATVing on the trails is critical for responsible riding. Always respect other trail users by slowing down when approaching, following posted speed limits and complying with municipal bylaws. 

For other group riding tips, visit our Group Riding Tips on our website at https://www.renfrewcountyatv.ca/group-riding-tips or RCATV Trail Etiquette https://www.renfrewcountyatv.ca/trail-etiquette/