According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 34,000 motorcyclists were killed on U.S. roads between 2001 and 2008, and an estimated 1,222,000 more were injured.

One reason the numbers are so high is that, of all motor vehicles on the road, motorcycles are the most vulnerable. Thankfully though, there are many steps motorcyclists can take to make themselves less susceptible to an accident or serious injuries.

The most important tip is to always wear your helmet. Check for the DOT label inside your helmet, and beware of any helmet that does not meet U.S. Department of Transportation standards. It could be your only source of protection in a serious accident.

Be aware of vehicles’ blind spots or “No-Zones”, and never drive along in them. Trucks have large “No-Zones” on the front, sides and back where they cannot see you. The front blind spot is especially dangerous because, in the event of a sudden stop, a motorcycle will stop long before a truck will, and a crash will be unavoidable.

Before each ride, conduct a safety inspection of your bike. Also, make sure you wear the proper protective clothing and gear. Bright colors and reflective strips will make you more visible to the drivers around you. Regular maintenance and appropriate clothing will reduce your chance of a crash, or help greatly reduce the severity of injuries if you are in a crash.

Defensive driving is a must in any vehicle, but especially a motorcycle. Don’t assume that other drivers are watching out for you. You must be aware of everything on the road, paying attention to turn signals and brake lights of other vehicles. Ride with caution, adhering to all traffic laws, and obeying the posted speed limit at all times. Watch your speed especially around trucks, at night and during bad weather.