Spring has arrived, and that means motorcyclists everywhere are gearing up to take advantage of riding season. Along with the exhilaration, motorcycles offer several benefits for their riders. They’re less costly than a car, easier to maintain and great for avoiding traffic jams. However, the dangers of the hobby can be sobering.

According to the latest data, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in traffic collisions than those driving cars. Before you rev up for your first ride of the season, it’s essential you remember to do your part on the road to keep yourself and others safe. By adhering to the following safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you can ensure your favorite pastime doesn’t turn fatal.

Don’t ride unless you’re licensed

In 2017, 29% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal collisions were riding without a valid motorcycle license. It should go without saying, but riding a motorcycle requires a different skill set than driving a car. All states require a motorcycle license in addition to your driver’s license if you plan to ride. A motorcycle license is the best way to ensure you have the knowledge and experience to ride safely.

Inspect your bike before each ride 

Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable on the road, so the last thing you want is something to go wrong with your bike while riding. Every time you take your bike out this season, it’s critical that you check your headlights, turn signals and brakes are working correctly. You should also check your tire pressure and fluid levels and inspect your bike for oil and gas leaks.

Always wear protective gear

If you’re interested in avoiding injuries or death on your rides, wearing a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) is the single most important thing you can do. Helmets are estimated to reduce the likelihood of death by 37% in a crash. Arms and legs should also be fully covered by thick and durable materials such as leather or heavy denim on each ride to prevent road rash.

Obey traffic laws

Motorcycles lack the protection of enclosed vehicles and can be challenging for other cars to see, so you must drive defensively. Safe riders need to follow traffic laws carefully and avoid taking risks. This can include always signaling when you turn, leaving enough space between you and other vehicles and approaching all intersections with caution.

Riding a motorcycle is a real adrenaline rush, but it isn’t without serious risks. By doing your part to ride responsibly, you can help to keep the roads safer for everyone this season.