What Should you Watch out for When a Rider is Approaching at an Intersection?

When a rider approaches an intersection, it is crucial to observe their hand or turn signals, a practice endorsed by the Land Transportation Office (LTO). These signals indicate the rider’s upcoming maneuvers, providing critical information about whether they intend to turn left, right, or stop. Understanding and anticipating these signals allows other road users to adjust their actions accordingly, enhancing overall safety at intersections.

Additionally, all drivers should approach intersections with heightened awareness and caution. This includes checking blind spots and mirrors frequently, as motorcycles and bicycles have a smaller profile and can easily be overlooked. By maintaining a safe distance and being vigilant about the riders’ positions and intended paths, collisions can be effectively avoided, ensuring safer navigation for everyone involved. It is also important to have a proper understanding and anticipation of their movements and signals. Here’s what you should keep an eye out for when a rider approaches at an intersection.

What Should you Watch out for When a Rider is Approaching at an Intersection

Understanding Turn and Hand Signals

As motorcycle riders approach an intersection, using turn signals is crucial for indicating intended direction changes clearly and consistently to other drivers. Hand signals can complement turn signals, enhancing visibility and understanding, especially in busy or complex intersections. It’s advisable for riders to use both signaling methods to ensure maximum visibility and safety in such critical traffic situations.

If you are driving behind one, then one of the most important things to watch for, as pointed out by the LTO, is hand and turn signals. These signals are a rider’s main way of communicating their intended path of travel, especially if their vehicle’s traditional signaling lights are less visible. Riders might use standardized motorcycle hand signals to indicate turns or stopping. For example, an extended left arm indicates a left turn, an extended right arm signals a right turn, and an upward bent left arm indicates slowing down or stopping.

Photo credit: Nova

Tips to Understand Turn or Hand Signals at an Intersection

For tips on hand and turn signals of riders approaching an intersection, please check this list:

1. Recognizing the Intentions

Whether you’re a driver, a co-rider, or a pedestrian, understanding these signals helps predict the rider’s actions, allowing you to adjust your movement accordingly. Keep in mind that not all riders use hand signals, and new models of motorcycles often have enhanced lighting systems that are similar to those used in cars, providing a clearer indication of the rider’s intentions through flashing blinkers.

2. Approach Intersections with Caution

The approach to any intersection requires focused attention. As vehicles converge from multiple directions, the complexity of movement increases. Every driver, including motorcyclists and bicyclists, should approach intersections at a cautious speed, adhering to the posted speed limits and slowing down when necessary.

3. Right of Way Understanding

Knowing who has the right of way is essential. Generally, vehicles already in the intersection have the right of way. In the Philippines, the rule is straightforward; you give way to the vehicle on your right, particularly in uncontrolled intersections, roundabouts, or when traffic lights are non-operational.

4. Eye Contact and Acknowledgment

Making eye contact with riders and other drivers at intersections can significantly improve safety. It helps in acknowledging each other’s presence and intentions. Often, a simple nod can confirm mutual understanding and significantly reduce the risk of collisions.

5. Anticipate Unexpected Movements

Riders may perform sudden maneuvers to avoid obstacles, road defects, or to filter through traffic. Always assume that a rider might make a sudden move and maintain a safe following distance. This buffer allows you to react appropriately should an unexpected change in their path occur.

6. Check Blind Spots and Mirrors

Always check your blind spots and mirrors for riders. Motorcycles and bicycles are smaller and can easily slip into areas where they might not be immediately visible. A quick shoulder check before turning or changing lanes can prevent a potential accident.

7. Be Mindful of Weather Conditions

Weather conditions affect all road users, but riders are particularly vulnerable. Wet or slippery surfaces can alter a rider’s ability to brake or turn safely. Be extra cautious and leave more space between you and riders during adverse weather conditions.

8. Light and Shadow Plays

Intersections with intermittent shadows can make it difficult to spot riders. Be extra vigilant in such areas, and adjust your speed to ensure you have ample time to react to any sudden appearances from shaded areas.

9. Use of Horn

While the horn should be used sparingly, a quick beep can be a useful tool to alert a rider of your presence, especially in a situation where they may not have seen you.

Video: How to Get Through Any Intersection Safely

For more information regarding the road safety in intersections, here’s a video from Zutobi Driver’s Ed:


Understanding and anticipating the actions of riders at intersections significantly contribute to road safety. By watching out for hand and turn signals, approaching intersections with caution, and maintaining a keen awareness of your surroundings, you can help ensure not only your safety but that of those sharing the road with you. Remember, road safety is a shared responsibility, and regardless if it’s in a bustling city road or a quieter rural junction, safe traveling starts with understanding and respect for all who share the roads.

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