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Canadian Petroleum Safety Council
Hand Signals Video – Script
This is scripting that was used for a 12 minute production


As a “Guide” or “Driver” of a vehicle, you need to understand and control the hazards associated with your daily tasks. This is all the more important when moving a vehicle on location. Overhead power lines, holes and ruts in the lease, slippery conditions and other vehicle traffic are all hazards you have to control and/or eliminate.

Good “Communication” is the most important and effective control measure.

The intention of this video is to demonstrate a standard set of signals for directing vehicles that can be utilized in controlling job-site hazards. We’ll look at a number of situations where vehicles are moving from one place to another and demonstrate the specific hand signals used in each case.

Though these hand signals have been developed by the petroleum industry as an Industry Recommended Practice and are supported by both industry and government, their usefulness extends well beyond just the petroleum industry.

(Quick Demo)

There are six specific hand signals in this IRP. We’ll show you all six, then
explain each in detail.

The signals are:
Emergency Stop
Planned Stop
Proceed Slowly
Left and Right turns
Distance to Stopping
Clear the Area

Every job site has its own unique hazards. If there’s one thing to remember about the safe movement of a vehicle, it’s that a pre-vehicle movement meeting between driver and guide is essential. Make sure BOTH clearly understand the signals that are to be used. Evaluate your job site. Identify the potential hazards and determine your path of travel before you start.


(Emergency Stop)

The Emergency Stop signal is critical. This signal takes priority over all other signals. If a situation changes that requires immediate action, or if you are no longer sure of the details of the move - this signal will cease movement of the vehicle immediately.

If anyone gives this signal, drivers are to stop immediately. Job site hazards can change and someone, other than the guide, may see something to warrant a stop.

This motion involves strong and deliberate hand movements and implies urgency.

Start with your hands crossed over your head and extend them downward to the side repeatedly in quick movements. Rapid movements are easier for drivers to see than slow ones in an emergency situation.

When this signal is given, the driver stops the vehicle and proceeds only when he has been given a signal to resume the move or has checked the situation himself and has determined, with the guide, that it is safe to do so.

Again, the final point to remember here is that this signal takes priority over all other signals.

(Planned Stop)

Not every stop is an emergency stop. For a planned stop there is a different signal. It is important that the guides assess the situation and determine the route to where final placement of the vehicle will be. The Stop signal is used both for re-positioning of the guide as well as when the final stop point is reached. It’s a matter of planning the stop as opposed to using an unplanned Emergency Stop signal.

The motion for this signal is pretty simple and involves raising your arms until the wrists are crossed above the head. Keep your arms fairly high so that the driver can clearly see the movement. Keeping your arms high also does not obstruct your field of vision.

(Proceed Slowly)

When proceeding slowly, drivers must ensure that vehicles are geared low. Vehicles should not move any faster than walking speed.

The Proceed Slowly signal is started with your upper arms extended, at roughly 45 degrees, in front of your body, with forearms bent upward. This maintains a clear field of vision. Palms should face the direction of travel.

Keep the wrists rigid and bend both arms repeatedly toward the head and chest. The reason the wrists are rigid is to give the driver a better view of the motion, making for full forearm movement. Hand movement only can be very hard to see.

To ensure there is no confusion, it’s important to continue making this signal until the vehicle is near its stopping point. Guides do not walk backwards during the move. Position yourself in clear view of the driver. If you cannot see the driver, he cannot see you. If the driver loses sight of the guide, he must stop the vehicle until sight is re-established.

Remember…it’s very important that the pre-vehicle movement safety meeting take place to determine the pathway of the vehicle. Plan your move. Both parties must understand what the signals mean as well as acknowledging the potential hazards along the vehicle’s path.

(Distance to Stopping Point)

As the vehicle approaches its final stopping point, it’s up to the guide to carefully direct it to its final position.

This signal starts with your elbows out to the sides of your body, with the forearms raised. Palms are pointed forward. As the vehicle moves closer, bring your elbows forward and the hands closer together, indicating distance to stop. Please note that the distance to stop represented by the hands, is not an actual distance, but a proportionate distance.

When the final stop point has been reached, use the stop signal, crossing the wrists, as covered earlier.

Again, it’s important to keep the arms high so that the driver can see them. Also, maintain your vision both with the driver and the final stopping point.

Always be aware of the hazards and pinch points between the vehicle and the stopping point.

Sometimes a situation occurs where something needs to be moved at the last second. Maybe a door is open or a piece of debris is in the pathway. If this happens, stop the vehicle.

Correct the hazard before continuing.


Your pre-vehicle movement meeting will determine the pathway to be followed on a turn.

The Turn hand signal begins with arms extended to the sides. One arm is pointed in the direction of the move. The other arm is bent and motions repeatedly toward the head. The signal continues until the turn is completed. Maintain a rigid wrist. Drivers are looking in mirrors, often some distance away, and need clear signals to understand the guide’s intent.

It’s important again that the driver can see the guide completely. During a move guides need to constantly assess the situation and be aware of any other vehicles or objects entering the turn radius. Similarly, guides should also be aware of the turning radius of the vehicle itself.

If you, as a guide, have to reposition… stop the vehicle…move to the new position, then resume the move.

With the turn signal, the movement of the arm that motions is very similar to half an emergency stop. Please be aware of it.

One final point here… if drivers don’t get the turn on the first attempt, there is no shame in having them do it over again. Simply re-position them, and repeat the process… slowly and properly. Plan to prevent the collision.

(Clear to Leave Area)

The Clear to Leave Area signal is indication for the driver that it is safe to leave an area. It also provides the direction to proceed. When clearing an area, often there will be a number of vehicles lined up to go. There may also be a number of guides on the site giving directions.

When using the Clear to Leave signal, first point directly at the driver. Hold the point until the driver acknowledges it’s his vehicle making the move. A short nod from the driver will work here. The guide then turns and extends both arms in the desired direction of movement. If you have to repeat the signal, do so.

Drivers must proceed slowly until the area has been cleared.

Other Uses

These Hand Signals are a means to prevent injury and incident and are easily transferable. Moving trailers, RV’s or simply backing up into congested spaces…these hand signals are very useful in a variety of every day situations.

To Review

To review, here are the signals:

Emergency Stop is a signal with strong and deliberate movements. This signal overrides all other hand signals.

The Planned Stop signal is when both hands are crossed above the head. Keep the arms high to maintain a clear field of vision.

The Proceed Slowly signal involves having the elbows pointed outward. Your palms face the direction of travel and motions are large and deliberate.

During the Distance to Stopping Point signal, the arms are again held high, the elbows are brought forward and the palms move closer together. Be sure to use the cross-handed stop signal to complete the move.

The Turn Signal involves pointing in the direction of movement, while using the motioning arm in large movements to indicate continuation of the turn.

When using the Clear to Leave Area signal, point at the driver until he acknowledges you, then make a solid motion in the direction of travel.

Drivers proceed slowly until the area has been cleared.

Some other important points to remember include:

Always have a pre-vehicle movement meeting. Assess the path of movement and the hazards.

Determine where the final vehicle position will be, then plan ahead for stops and re-positioning. Plan Your Move.

Continue your signals up until the point where the move is complete or you have to re-position. If you have to reposition, stop the vehicle, re-position yourself… then continue the move.

Guides and drivers must always have each other in view.

In Conclusion

Collisions, accidents and incidents can be prevented.

It’s important that drivers and guides take the time to learn and use this set of hand signals.

An easy way is to communicate the signals to others on location or at your job-site is to carry a number of signal cards with you and hand them out during your pre-meeting. Both guides and drivers can do this.

If you need a supply of signal cards or the accompanying poster, they can be obtained from the Canadian Petroleum Safety Council.

Be responsible. Know and control the hazards. Take the initiative to create a safe environment in your workplace. Remember to plan your vehicle’s movement. The care and control of a unit is ultimately the driver’s responsibility, but the use of a guide with these hand signals will help prevent accidents.

Remember…You are in control!

If you have any questions or would like to get in contact, please click Email below or call the business line at (403)243-9367.


Taylor Creative - 3622, 3rd Street SW, Calgary Alberta, T2S 1V5 (403)243-9367 roncre8s@shaw.ca