Spring has nearly arrived, and that means motorcyclists everywhere are dusting off their bikes and preparing to hit the open road. But before you gear up for your first ride of the season, it’s important to remember that riding a motorcycle can be a dangerous hobby.

While the causes of a motorcycle accident can vary, they are more often than not a disastrous event. More than 80% of all motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist. As a rider, it’s critical that you do everything you can to keep yourself – and other drivers – safe.

Fortunately, many accidents on the road are preventable. Following these simple safety tips on your next ride could save your life.

Protective gear is a must

According to the CDC, wearing a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) is the single most effective thing you can do to prevent injury or death. In fact, helmets are estimated to reduce the likelihood of death in a crash by 37%.

Protection shouldn’t stop at your head. Riders should make sure they are wearing long pants and sleeves made of a thick, protective material to avoid road rash. Goggles or a face shield should also be worn to protect your face and eyes from debris.

Stay visible to drivers

Motorcycles are small and easily concealed by a car’s blind spots. While motorists need to do their part to start seeing motorcycles, it’s essential that you stay as visible as possible.

Wear bright and reflective clothing whenever you go for a ride. Stay in the lane that allows other drivers to see you. When in doubt, honk your horn to make your presence known.

Drive defensively

When motorcycles collide with other vehicles, it is usually the non-motorcyclist driver who violates the rider’s right-of-way. Half of all motorcycle crashes happen at intersections, and a motorist turning left in front of you is perhaps the most common cause of deadly collisions.

Stay alert on your ride and try to anticipate the next move of other drivers. If you’re a new rider, it’s a good idea to take a motorcycle safety course to improve your skills. Even if you’re a seasoned rider, you should take a refresher course every few years to brush up on your driving.

Riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating experience, but it can also be a deadly one. By doing your part to keep yourself safe and visible on the road, you can reduce the odds of a catastrophic accident.