Motorcycles offer an exhilarating transportation experience that many people prefer over a car or truck. In an accident, however, motorcyclists usually experience far more severe injuries and serious consequences than drivers or passengers in a motor vehicle. While it is not possible to prevent all motorcycle crashes, there are several things you may do as a rider to keep yourself safe and reduce your risk of serious injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 5,000 motorcyclists died in traffic accidents in 2018. Data from 2017 shows that nearly 30 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes that year did not have valid motorcycle licenses. Other statistics from the NHTSA indicate that you are about 28 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash if you are riding a motorcycle rather than riding in a car.

The NHTSA indicates that all states require you to have a motorcycle license endorsement on your driver’s license in order to ride legally. Most states require you to take a licensed course and/or pass an exam proving you are able to ride safely. While operating a motorcycle, you must obey all traffic laws and remain attentive at all times. Laws that prohibit driving under the influence of intoxicating substances also apply to operating a motorcycle.

Another essential part of safe motorcycling is wearing a proper helmet. According to the NHTSA, you should ensure your helmet meets U.S. Department of Transportation specifications. All approved helmets have a DOT sticker on the outside of the helmet toward the back. Other vital safety gear includes pants, jackets, gloves and shoes that completely cover the skin. Heavy-duty materials, such as denim or leather, may help protect you during a crash and reduce dehydration while riding.