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Ohio State University Extension


Hand Signals for Vehicle Safety for Trainers and Supervisors

Tailgate Safety Training for Landscaping and Horticultural Services
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: Identify and use the correct hand signals when working under noisy conditions.

Trainer’s Note

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has adopted 11 uniform hand signals for safety. All workers, including delivery drivers and other workers who are at the job site, should learn the 11 signals and use them. That way, everyone will communicate in the same “language.” For this module:

  • Demonstrate the signals in your tailgate presentation.
  • Have someone else discuss how to perform the signal while you demonstrate the hand signal.
  • Have workers practice them.
  • You could post the hand signals in the coffee room or near a water fountain. This will allow employees to see the signals every day.
  • Review the important points.
  • Have workers take the True/False quiz to check their learning.


Hand signals are ideal for communication around noise. Hand signals provide a way to communicate needed information effectively in a noisy environment. All workers should learn and use these signals.

Why Use Hand Signals?

  • Hand signals save time.
  • Hand signals prevent incidents.
  • Hand signals reduce severity of injuries.
  • Hand signals lower the risk of fatality.
  • Hand signals communicate well in noisy environments.

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has adopted 11 uniform hand signals for safety. The signals help workers communicate in the same “language.” The chart below shows the 11 signals. With each hand signal there are detailed instructions for performing the signal.

Come to Me Move Toward Me This Far to Go Stop
Arm above head and moving in a circular pattern Arms horizontal, beckoning, motion toward body Palms at ear level, facing head and motioning inward Arm motion for Stop
Raise the arm vertically overhead, palm to the front, and rotate in large horizontal circles. Point toward person(s), vehicle(s), unit(s); beckon by holding the arm horizontally to the front, palm up, and motioning toward the body.  Place palms at ear level, facing head, and move laterally inward to indicate remaining distance to go.  Raise the hand upward to the full extent of the arm, palm to the front. Hold that position until the signal is understood. 
Lower Equipment Raise Equipment Start Engine Stop Engine
Arm motion for Lower Equipment Arm motion for Raise Equipment Arm motion for Start Engine Arm motion for Stop Engine
Make circular motion with either hand pointing to the ground. Make circular motion with either hand at head level. Simulate cranking of vehicles by moving arm in circular motion at waist level.  Draw either hand, palm down across the neck in a “throat-cutting motion.”
Slow Down Speed Up Move out Hand Signals for Vehicle Safety
Arm motion for slow down Arm motion for Speed Up Arm motion for Move out
Extend the arm horizontally sideward, palm down, and wave arm downward 45 degree minimum several times, keeping the arm straight. Do not move arm above horizontal. Raise the hand to the shoulder, fist closed; thrust the fist upward to the full extent of the arm and back to the shoulder rapidly several times. Face the desired direction of movement; hold the arm extended to the rear; then swing it overhead and forward in the direction of desired movement until it is horizontal palm down.

Review These Important Points

  • Hand signals are an ideal communication tool for noisy situations.
  • There are 11 ASABE uniform hand signals.
  • Hand signals help save time and prevent incidents.
  • Using hand signals could save a life.
  • Review each signal with employees.

About These Modules
The author team for the training modules in the landscape and horticultural tailgate training series includes Dee Jepsen, Program Director, Agricultural Safety and Health, Ohio State University Extension; Michael Wonacott, Research Specialist, Vocational Education; Peter Ling, Greenhouse Specialist; and Thomas Bean, Agricultural Safety Specialist. Modules were developed with funding from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Grant Number 46E3-HT09.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Labor.

Answer Key

1. T 2. F 3. T 4. T 5. T

Quiz: Hand Signals for Vehicle Safety



True or False?

1. To signal to stop, you should raise your hand upward to the full extent of the arm, palm to the front.     T     F

2. Only the owner needs to know the hand signals.     T     F

3. There are 11 uniform ASABE hand signals.     T     F

4. Using the standard hand signals can save time and prevent incidents.     T     F

5. To indicate that the equipment needs to be lowered, make a circular motion with either hand pointing to the ground.     T     F

Originally posted May 31, 2018.