Cruising down the open road with nothing but a cool breeze between yourself and the landscape is an amazing dream. The challenge is when fantasy meets harsh reality –– in the form of distracted drivers, hazardous roads, and other bad days just waiting to happen.

Despite the risks, motorcycles are growing in popularity. It’s easy to see why. They can transform tedious commutes into an adventure while saving you a bit of change as well. Still, if you do crash your bike you’ll probably need more than a good mechanic. You might need an ambulance. If someone else is at fault, you’ll definitely want to call a talented motorcycle accident attorney in Long Island.

Whether you are a first timer or a veteran, when it comes to riding a motorcycle, what do you need to know?

You’re Not Alone

In 2018, there were over 12 million motorcycles in use across the United States. That is an increase of two million bikes since 2014 (the last year for which data was collected). Over eight percent of homes have at least one motorcycle –– an increase of over one million homes since the last study. And while perceived as a male-dominated hobby, growing numbers of women are riding as well. In fact, more than twice as many women were riding motorcycles in 2018 as in 2009. Today, one out of every five riders is female.

Cars Are Safer

You already knew this, right? Cars have seat belts and airbags. They have an extended bumper and specially designed crumple zones to protect occupants. While modern motorcycles are technological wonders, they don’t have the same sort of safety features as cars. They don’t even have a roof!

That’s why although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2018 reported that the number of motorcyclists killed in crashes dropped by nearly 5% to 4,985, they were still overrepresented in traffic fatalities. The year before, the agency noted that riders were 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled.

Safety Course First

Equally troubling, almost one-third of riders involved in fatal crashes didn’t have the proper license. Like many states, New York requires anyone operating a motorcycle to have a Learner’s Permit –– which is earned after passing a written exam. Learners should then practice for at least thirty hours while being supervised by a rider with a valid motorcycle license.

However, whether it is a state requirement or not, you should take a course. For beginners and veterans, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) offers a variety of courses combining classroom exercises and real-road experience. When you purchase a bike, purchase some insurance as well.

Get In Gear

Although you’ve probably seen at least one rider sporting flip-flops, shorts, and a cheesy grin don’t be one of them. Every time you ride, your arms and legs should be completely covered by either leather or heavy denim. Your footwear should cover your ankles while gloves cover your hands. Above all, you need a helmet.

In many states it’s the law to wear a helmet, but even in places where it isn’t required, it’s definitely recommended. Buy one with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) seal of approval on the outside back of the helmet.

Start Slow

If you’re a beginner, avoid highways and busy roads. Ride solo –– an extra passenger doubles your chances of an accident. Realize that distracted drivers are commonplace and you will disappear into their blindspots.

Finally, before you hit the road perform a pre-ride check –– making sure your tire pressure is optimal, your lights function, and your fluids are at the proper levels.

Motorcycles can feel like freedom but the only way to keep the ride going is to take your time and pay attention.