After finally securing your motorcycle license, you are eager to get on the road and start riding but new riders need to be extra aware of basic safety measures. Almost 5,000 riders died in motorcycle accidents in 2017. While that number is down from prior years, these fatalities are more common than other types of road deaths.

Fortunately, by staying diligent about safety, you can help prevent accidents and protect yourself in the event of a crash. The following are some common safety mistakes that beginner riders make and how you can avoid them.

1. Skipping your safety course

Especially if you’ve been driving cars and riding bikes for years, a motorcycle safety course may seem unnecessary. However, this class could give you life-saving tips and refresh your basic safety know-how. You can also learn traffic laws that pertain to motorcycle safety and know what to do if you get caught in severe weather. No matter how at ease you feel on your bike, a safety course can help you prepare for the unexpected. 

2. Not remaining aware of your surroundings

While all motorcycle riders hope that other drivers will use caution on the road, this is not always the case. A person driving a passenger vehicle might violate your right of way, putting you at risk for a crash. Generally, motorcycle riders need to exercise more caution and drive more defensively than other drivers. Stay aware of your surroundings whenever you are on the road, and leave plenty of space between you and other drivers. It may help to drive in lower traffic areas while you are first starting out. 

3. Leaving your helmet at home

Even if you live in a state that does not require you to wear a helmet by law, you should still wear one. Your helmet could be the life-saving factor in a crash. In fact, your helmet should probably be one of the main gear investments that you make. Work with a retailer that sells high-quality motorcycle helmets to choose a product that fits your needs and style of riding.

4. Not protecting your body

While it’s essential to wear a helmet when you ride, some riders neglect the rest of their body. However, the wrong clothing could leave you with road rash and other injuries if a crash does occur. A jacket and a pair of pants that are specifically designed for riding a motorcycle are a must, as are a quality pair of gloves and sturdy boots. If you plan to ride your bike to work, you can wear your work clothes underneath or plan to change when you get there. Depending on the climate where you live, be sure to invest in some weather-protectant gear. This will keep you safe and comfortable when the temperatures dip.

5. Driving too fast

Riding a motorcycle is all about the freedom of the road. However, some riders get carried away. While it might feel exhilarating to zip through cars and fly around turns, reckless riding can cause a serious accident. No matter how long you have been riding your motorcycle, reduce your speed and stay mindful of the flow of traffic. And by slowing down, you can enjoy the scenery even more.

While riding a motorcycle is exciting, it can also be quite dangerous. This is especially true if you don’t take enough safety precautions on the road. By riding defensively, wearing the right gear, and educating yourself on safety best practices, you can better avoid an accident and protect yourself if you do crash. You can also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a smooth and safe ride.