If you’ve ever considered longboarding as a way to get around town, or your child is suddenly showing an interest in how to learn longboarding, you might wonder just how safe it is. After all, some people use their longboards to go downhill! Surely, that is extremely dangerous!

Well, yes, going downhill on a longboard as fast as possible can be dangerous. However, longboarding itself isn’t dangerous. You can make it as safe or as dangerous as you want! You have total control over your speed, where you go, and what equipment you use. And while falls do happen, there are gears and techniques you can use to help make those falls less dangerous.

DO: Follow traffic safety laws

In most places, you will need to longboard on the street instead of on the sidewalk. Therefore, you will need to follow the traffic safety laws in your area to avoid collisions. This includes staying in the appropriate lane and following all traffic commands, such as yielding to oncoming traffic. Keep in mind, however, that when you’re riding on the road, you may need to make sudden stops. You should master foot braking in a safe location before longboarding in traffic.

DON’T: Ride without protective gear

The right protective gear can keep you safe in the event of a fall. At a minimum, this protective gear should include a helmet, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, and slide gloves. Keep in mind that you need more than a bike helmet to stay safe. Look for a hard half-shell helmet. If you’re going to be doing more dangerous longboarding, such as downhill speedboarding, you should instead get a full-face helmet to protect your entire head.

DO: Check your equipment regularly

Over time, your protective gear and longboard can start to wear out. Or, your equipment can become damaged after a fall. You’ll want to regularly check your equipment to make sure it is in good condition. If you realize your longboard has a crack in it, you’ll have to seal the crack with epoxy before it can be used again. Another good maintenance tip is to rotate your longboard wheels every couple of months so they wear evenly.

DON’T: Wear headphones

It can be tempting to wear headphones while you’re on your longboard. After all, it can be relaxing to coast along while jamming out to your favorite band. However, if you have headphones in, while riding on the road, you might miss out on the honk of a car or other traffic sounds. Missing out on these noises could put you at risk for a potential accident. So, skip the headphones when you’re riding on the road!

DO: Learn how to fall safely

Falls are going to happen, especially when you’re first learning how to longboard. However, how you react when you realize you’re about to fall can help prevent you from getting more seriously injured. Try not to catch yourself with your arms or your hands when you’re falling. The best way to fall is to jump off your board, try to run, then roll into the fall. There are online videos that can teach you how to fall safely.

DON’T: Speed ride until you’re ready

Downhill longboarding (also known as speed longboarding) is thrilling and allows you to reach high speeds, but you shouldn’t participate in this type of longboarding until you have mastered basic coasting and have plenty of practicing riding in traffic. While this type of longboarding is risky, those who know how to ride safely in traffic can reduce their chances of getting injured. You might want to consider riding with experienced friends the first time you go downhill longboarding.

DO: Assess yourself if you fall

If you do happen to take a fall while out longboarding, always assess yourself for any injuries before starting to ride again. Check for any broken bones or large open wounds and seek medical help if necessary. If you hit your head in the fall, look for signs of a concussion. If you’re badly injured, try to find a way to get off of the road or figure out a way to signal to cars that you’re there.

In summary

Longboarding can be a fun way to get around, but there are certain precautions you should take to make sure that you stay safe, such as learning how to fall properly and wearing the right gear. And if you do want to participate in downhill longboarding, make sure you have experience with regular longboarding first.