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Spring is in the air, and motorcyclists are gearing up to hit the open road. Along with the seasoned riders are new motorcyclists, ready to ride for the first time.

Regardless of how long you’ve been a motorcyclist, it’s important to avoid risky behavior and follow safety best practices. Motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles on the road – and their crashes are more likely to result in fatalities. Therefore, it’s smart to take precaution.

Here are five critical safety tips for new riders, which can also serve as refreshers for veteran motorcyclists:

  1. Inspect your motorcycle before each ride. You should check your tire pressure, and ensure your controls, stands and lights are in working order. Make sure your motorcycle has sufficient fuel and engine oil.
  2. Wear full safety gear. A helmet is the most critical piece of safety equipment for motorcyclists. You should also wear a motorcycle jacket, gloves, boots and pants. A set of earplugs and riding glasses can help protect your hearing and eyesight. Just remember, there’s no such thing as too much safety gear.
  3. Ride defensively. This means consistently scanning the road for any debris, staying out of blind spots and maintaining a two-second following distance behind vehicles. You should also ride at a safe speed in the lane with the best visibility.
  4. Keep tools and a first-aid kit on your motorcycle. Your motorcycle should have enough room for a basic first-aid kit and a few essential tools. This could include plasters, gauze and bandages in your first-aid kit, and a few wrenches and screwdrivers in your tool pouch.
  5. Consider a safety course. There are a lot of guidelines and rules for motorcyclists to follow. Luckily, there are many safety courses offered in Seattle and surrounding cities that can help you learn. These courses are especially useful for new riders.

Motorcycling is a lot of fun, but can also be dangerous. By following these safety tips, you may be able to decrease your chances of getting into a crash – and mitigate injury if you are in one.