Individuals face a far greater risk of serious injury or death when riding a motorcycle than when traveling in a car, truck, or other motor vehicle. One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is being struck by a motorist who doesn’t see you, particularly at night.

According to the IIHS, 4,381 motorcyclists across the United States were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2013, and motorcycle fatalities accounted for 13 percent of all crash-related deaths that year.

There are ways that motorcyclists can minimize the risk of injury by being properly prepared, avoiding known hazards, and exercising caution.

Wear a Certified, Properly-Fitted Helmet and Protective Gear

Helmets are the main protective item motorcyclists must use to keep themselves safe while riding. IIHS statistics show that wearing a helmet while riding can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by about 67 percent. Helmets are nearly 37 percent effective in reducing the risk of death to a motorcyclist.

Motorcyclists should also wear protective gear with riding, including gloves, eye protection, long sleeved jacket, full length pants, as well as closed toed shoes.

Take a Motorcycle Safety Class

Whether you are new to riding a motorcycle or you are a seasoned professional, taking a motorcycle safety class can increase your riding skills. Most classes teach basic traffic safety laws, test your riding abilities in a controlled environment, and train you how to react to emergency situations. A majority of riders find that motorcycle safety classes leave them feeling more confident in their ability to ride safely.

Conduct Routine Inspections and Perform Maintenance Regularly

Performing regular maintenance is important for all vehicles and motorcyclists should always conduct a routine inspection of their bike before taking it for a ride. Checking tires for wear and tear, and checking the working order of brakes, lights, cables, controls, and chains can prevent potentially deadly problems on the road.

Do What You Can to Avoid Rider Distractions

Any activity that causes a motorcyclist to take his or her eyes off the road, hands off the handlebars, or attention off the task of riding is a dangerous distraction. Remain alert and aware of surroundings as well as other motorists. Motorcycles are much harder to see than larger vehicles and can easily end up in another motorist’s blind spot. If a motorcyclist’s reaction time is reduced by even a few seconds, it could mean the difference between avoiding an accident and becoming a statistic.

Do Not Drive in Poor Weather Conditions

Rain, ice, or snow on roads and highways will significantly reduce a rider’s ability to control the bike. Poor weather conditions will also mean reduced visibility, for the motorcyclist as well as other drivers on the road. Slowing down will help lower chances of an accident in poor conditions, but the other way to fully eliminate the rider’s risk is to choose another form of transportation.