If you ride a motorcycle, you probably already know that you are at higher risk for injury than other motorists in a collision with another vehicle. This is especially true in California, where motorcycle fatalities have been on the rise for the past 22 years according to data reported by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

To avoid becoming a statistic, follow these safety tips whether you are a new rider or a seasoned motorcycle vet.

Adhere to state bike laws

California allows motorcycle riders to travel between lanes, but they otherwise must follow the same traffic laws as other motorists. Handlebars must position your hands no more than six inches above your shoulders when riding. You can travel with a passenger on your bike only when he or she has a designated seat and footrest.

Make sure drivers see you

Motorcycle crashes commonly occur when another driver enters the bike’s right-of-way. When riding on state roads, you must illuminate headlights at all times on bikes built after 1978 to help drivers see you. Stay out of the blind spots of surrounding vehicles and always use your turn signal when turning or changing lanes.

Follow cars safely

Keeping double the distance you would if you were driving a car gives you time to react when a driver stops or swerves unexpectedly. Use your back and side mirrors to maintain a full view of vehicles on all sides so you can defend yourself if they come too close.

Seek education

Even when you have been riding a motorcycle for years, you can significantly reduce your risk of a collision with a defensive driving course approved by the National Safety Council. New riders should absolutely take advantage of this chance to improve their skills during their first two years on the road, an especially risky period for novice bikers.

With more than 800,000 registered motorcycles, California leads the nation in this efficient form of travel. Be a responsible rider to prevent serious injury while you enjoy the fresh air, scenery and exhilaration of riding.