There’s nothing like the freedom and exhilaration of motorcycle riding, but when accidents happen, they can be deadly. And California traffic can be especially dangerous.

Contrary to popular belief, accidents are not unpreventable. We know what causes most motorcycle accidents, and there are ways to avoid them.

Don’t get turned into

The most common motorcycle accident is when a car turns left into your bike without seeing it. This can happen because a driver isn’t paying attention or because you’re in the car’s blind spot. It can even happen because drivers simply don’t see what they aren’t expecting to see.

The best way to avoid this is to anticipate the problem. Be aware that the car might not see you, don’t crowd cars or sneak up on them at intersections, and cover your brakes in case you need to make a quick stop.

Don’t take corners too fast

Another common cause of motorcycle crashes is taking corners too quickly. If you wipe out on a corner, not only can you be hurt in the fall itself but you’re also in danger of being hit by cars and trucks once you’re on the road.

To avoid this, rein in that urge to drive like a demon. Whether you drive a bike or an 18-wheeler, you can’t just watch the road directly in front of you. You need to keep your eyes as far ahead as you can, watching curves in the road and changes in traffic conditions. If you do hit the corner too fast, don’t slam on the brakes or choke the throttle — try to ride it out.

Don’t get hit from behind

It’s not unusual for cyclists to get hit from behind at intersections, crosswalks, and stop signs. In an accident between two cars, this might be a minor fender bender. For you, it can be deadly.

To avoid this, pull up at stops between lanes instead of in them. If there’s one car already stopped at the light, politely go in front of it (and move quickly off the light to avoid holding it up). If you can’t do this, try flashing your brake lights rapidly to signal to cars behind you. Finally, whenever you’re stopped, keep your bike in gear and ready to go. Watch what’s happening behind you and be ready to take off if a car comes up too quickly in your mirrors.

Don’t get doored

Some motorcyclists call the space between an active lane and a line of parked cars “the death zone”. Dooring happens when a parked car door suddenly opens in front of you.

To avoid this, never ride up between a line of parked cars and an active lane of traffic. Stay at least a door’s length away from parked cars. This will not only protect you, but also that pedestrian who steps out from between the parked cars and into your path.

Dealing with an accident

Not all accidents are preventable, but you can better deal with them when they do happen. As you feel the accident start, be sure to let go of your handlebars. If you hang on for dear life, you’re much more likely to be crushed. If you let go, you are more likely to be thrown clear. Do as much as you can to stay low and skim rather than tumble along the ground.

If you’re able to, and once emergency medical needs have been taken care of, you need to report any vehicle accident in Sacramento.

Get legal help

Look for a Sacramento motorcycle accident attorney to make sure you know your legal rights and keep them protected.

To enjoy riding your motorcycle, educate yourself on common causes of accidents and how to avoid them. Take a defensive driving course and know what to do if you are in an accident. Have fun, but be safe out there.