Hand Signals; Courtesy or Requirement?
Courtesy of September 2017 Issue of Snow Tech Magazine
Last fall we talked about the use of hand signals when meeting oncoming
riders to indicate how many riders are coming behind you. This
is an unofficial practice in many riding areas, where riders will, as a
courtesy, indicate how many more sleds are coming. Knowing that you
have just met the lase rider in their group is always good information to
know. Pretty simple common sense.
While not a requirement, too many riders act like it IS a requirement
and spend more time worrying about signaling you than maintaining
control of their machine. They will be driving right down the middle of
the trail coming at you, more worried about giving you a hand signal
than they are about staying on their side of the trail.
This past winter a committee of American Council of Snowmobile
Associations (ACSA) members discussed the merits of continuing to use
and reach the basic hand signals used by snowmobilers, of which
there are seven accepted and recognized signals. Of these, using fingers
to indicate how many riders are behind you is NOT one of them.
In fact, the International Association of Snowmobile Administrators
(IASA) recently recommended the finger countdown signal indicating
how many riders are behind you be eliminated from use. Instead, the
accepted signal is using your thumb pointing backwards in a hitchhiker
motion, indicating there are sleds following. For the last rider in
the group, the raised arm and hand with a clenched fist remains the
accepted signal rhat you arc the lase rider of that group.
This way, you still know there are more riders coming at you, just not
how many. When you get to the end of the group you know it and can
continue on your merry way.
For most of us, what is considered to be rhe "official" form of signaling
is of less importance than rider safety. Each rider will decide in e:ich
situation if there is value in indicating to on-coming traffic the number
of riders behind you. It most certainly does not need to be done by
every single rider in every group, and nobody should be getting upset
if you do not signal them at all, except maybe if you are the last in line.
The key here is rider safety. As we discussed in our previous coverage of
this subject, it is for more important for a rider to maintain control of
their machine than it is to signal others. When meeting traffic you must
be able to get over to the right side of the trail and not be going down
the middle, or worse yet, be on the WRONG side of the trail!
Common sense should indicate a rider not remove their hand from the
handlebars to signal others if they are a younger or inexperienced rider,
if they are in a tight area or coming around a blind comer where vehicle
control is critical. or if they are in a rough or sloped section of trail
thac could make one-handed operation unsafe. Common sense should
dictate being able to maintain vehicle: control is the priority in each
circumstance. Signaling oncoming traffic is secondary, and by
no means mandatory - it is simply a courtesy, if able can be done safely.