Whether you are new to riding a motorcycle or revisiting an old hobby, you are likely excited to answer the call of the open road. However, before you go out on your first ride, it’s critical to remember that riding motorcycles can be a deadly activity.

Motorcyclists lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle and are thus more likely to be injured or killed in a collision. In fact, per miles traveled in 2017, the number of deaths on motorcycles in the U.S. was nearly 27 times the number in cars. Fortunately, new riders can keep themselves safer by following these safety tips.

Get the right bike for you

When choosing a bike, don’t get more bike than you can handle. A good rule of thumb is that when you sit on your motorcycle, you should be able to reach the handlebars comfortably. You should be able to easily rest both feet on the ground without being on your tiptoes. If the bike feels too heavy, it probably is.

Ideally, your bike should have anti-lock brakes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcycles with anti-lock brakes were 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those without them.

Master your riding skills

Like any new skill, the best way to improve is to enlist the help of experts and practice. All new or returning riders should enroll in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation safety course. These courses focus on the basics of riding, as well as what to do in emergencies.

Some insurance companies offer discounts for their members who take advantage of motorcycle safety classes.

Don’t skip the helmet

Wearing a helmet every time you ride is the most critical thing you can do for your safety. In a motorcycle crash, helmets are estimated to reduce the likelihood of death by 37 percent. Those who don’t wear a helmet are 40 percent more likely to die of a traumatic head injury than those who wear one.

There’s no excuse not to wear a helmet. A full-face helmet approved by the Department of Transportation will offer the best protection for your head and face.

Drive defensively

Motorcyclists are incredibly vulnerable on the road. That’s why riders must be extra focused and alert to avoid deadly collisions.

Driving defensively means obeying traffic laws and leaving enough space between you and other vehicles. While it’s not always possible to anticipate what a car driver will do next, staying vigilant on your bike is one of the best ways to avoid an accident.

Motorcycles are dangerous, but accidents are preventable. By adhering to these tips, you can enjoy your new hobby to its fullest.