Your own safety should always be your first priority when you’re riding a motorbike, and this comes down to a combination of common sense, good riding skills and top-quality protective equipment. Follow this guide to ensure you’re keeping yourself safe:

Plan your journey

Many accidents on the road can be avoided simply by choosing safer roads and not travelling at peak hours, if possible. This map by MCE Insurance illustrates some of the regional accident black spots for bikers, revealing that the most dangerous time of day to ride is between 4pm and 7pm. Unsurprisingly, urban areas are the most dangerous, with London accounting for nearly a quarter of the 21,059 motorcycle accidents last year.

Research by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents also found that bends on country A roads and junctions put bikers particularly at risk, so take extra care on these or avoid them if you can. Severe wind, rain and frost can also put you in danger by hampering your ability to control your bike.

Ride safely

Don’t exceed speed limits, even when the road is clear – speeding can cost you a lot more than points on your licence. When overtaking, ensure you have a safe place to come back on to your side of the road and be prepared to abandon the manoeuvre if you need to. Good cornering is a skill that can take years to perfect, but the most important thing is to slow down to a speed you’re comfortable with. The police’s BikeSafe campaign has some great advice on performing road manoeuvres safely.

Invest in the best safety gear

Your helmet is your first line of defence against the most damaging injuries, so make sure you choose the best one you can can. SHARP (Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme) ranks hundreds of helmets on the market according to the level of protection they provide. According to the programme’s research, as many as 50 lives a year could be saved if bikers wore the best-rated helmets.

Your protective clothing is just as important. Make sure your hands, shoulders, elbows, back and knees are protected and that you can move freely in your gear – it shouldn’t weigh you down.