Whether you are an experienced motorcyclist or you are hoping to enjoy a new way of exploring Ohio’s roadways, safety should be a high priority before your next ride. While you cannot plan for every possible event on the road, it is possible to take precautions that make you and other drivers safer.

Be sure to check that your motorcycle is in working order.

Before you take your motorcycle out for the season, take some time to check its mechanical systems. Make sure that your lights, brakes and other safety systems are fully functional. Check your tires to ensure that they do not need to be replaced. This will help you decrease the risk of blowouts, brake failures and other mechanical issues.

Take care while driving.

Defensive driving is an important way to keep yourself safe while driving, especially since motorcycles are smaller and less visible than other vehicles. Take care at intersections, especially when your view has been blocked by the terrain or by buildings. Watch for hazards, including loose gravel and other debris.

It is also important to ensure that you are focused on driving when you are on a motorcycle. Driving while distracted or tired can make it difficult to react to hazards or to other drivers. It is especially important not to ride if you have been drinking—28% of the motorcycle rider fatalities in 2007 were under the influence of alcohol.

Wear protective gear.

While it will not prevent an accident, wearing protective gear can help you minimize injuries if you are in a crash. Being sure to cover exposed skin, for example, can prevent that skin from being damaged in the event of an accident.

This is especially true of helmet usage. Ohio law does not require you to wear a helmet unless you are under the age of 18, driving with a temporary permit or in the first year of licensure. However, even if you are not legally required to wear a helmet, it is still one of the best ways to keep yourself safe while riding a motorcycle. Helmet use can help motorcyclists avoid severe injuries, and it can reduce fatalities by 37% and head injuries by 67%.

By taking precautions, you can both enjoy the use of your motorcycle and keep yourself safe.