Wear a HelmetThis is probably the most important tip on this list and also the most obvious. Helmets save lives and prevent long-term or permanent brain damage. While 31 states don't require wearing a helmet, you're about 40 percent more likely to survive a crash if you're wearing one.
Gear UpGloves, boots, pants, and a jacket are all necessary to protect you from nearly whatever the road can throw at you. Even just a simple spill can give you pretty bad road rash if you're not wearing the right gear, to say nothing of a nasty accident. Denim and a t-shirt will just leave you with less skin than you want so you'll want to invest in some leather accessories.
Get DefensiveAccording to Scherline And Associates, most accidents between a car and a motorcycle are the car driver's fault, mostly due to violating right-of-way rules. Assume that drivers will not see you, whether when they're changing lanes, at an intersection, or pulling out of a parking lot. Also, scan for things up ahead that might cause traffic patterns to change quickly (such as construction or an accident). It sounds intimidating, but the awareness does become second nature pretty quickly and can even save your life.
Be Road ReadyBefore you set out, walk your bike, and make sure it's ready to go. Check the chain or the belt to make sure they're in good condition and moving smoothly. Tires need to be in good shape and inflated to the right pressure. When you get on the bike, make sure the mirrors are adjusted properly as well.
Learn From a ProLearning to ride a motorcycle is not something you should try to learn on your own, or something your buddy can teach you. Look into a rider class through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or a similar group. You learn the basics, laws for your state, and may even get a break on your insurance.
Safety isn't the first thing people think about when getting a motorcycle, but it should be. Staying safe when you ride will ensure you'll be riding for years to come.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer, recent graduate from the University of New Mexico, and avid runner. She loves to blog about fitness, health, home and family. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.