Statistics show that you are dramatically safer on a motorcycle if you take a safety course before you ride at all. Start with a safety course. It teaches you all the nonintuitive things that you need to know.
You are also safer if you dress properly.
Once you've done that, the primary danger is other people. You will motorcycle happily until the day that a driver who is making a left turn fails to notice you approaching (you are small relative to a car, and more difficult to see) and pulls out in front of you, too close for you to stop. Then you are going to dump the bike and/or go flying, because you have no airbags or crumpling metal to help stop you. This will happen sooner or later. There is very little you can do about this, except to do everything you can to enhance your visibility, and to ride very slowly, which can be difficult -- according to many cyclists, once you're on the thing and feeling comfortable you will speed up, perhaps even unconsciously. ;)
Obviously, deer are even worse at noticing you than humans. I hit a deer in my car once. It was traumatic enough in a four-wheeled vehicle.
No motorcycles for me, I'm afraid. The risk/benefit ratio is too high for my personality.
- Make sure you see the car in the left lane
- Realize he may be about to do something stupid
- Lower your speed a bit
- Watch his front left tire (that's his tell)
- Meet his eyes
- Wiggle your bike
- Flip your high beam on/off
If you're too far away to see his face or his tire, and you're still at risk, you're going too fast period.
(From what I gather, left turns into oncoming motorcyclist is one of the most common accidents outside rider error and riding drunk, so I'm always thinking about it)