When to dash?

So I’ve been playing SF4 for about 2 months now and I think I’ve got a good grasp on the game (as much as someone can with that much experience haha) and was wondering when I should use forward and backwards dash. They both seem very unsafe to use, I feel like the opponent could get a really easy punish if they catch you, but i’m sure i am missing something. Any advice is appreciated.

Access the situation and see how your opponent is acting. If you feel like you your foe on the ropes or retreating or you have a hard read on them. Dash in and press your advantage. If you want to keep distance or get out of a bad situation. Backdash. Also backdash has invincibility frames in SF4. So it’s safe to backdash out of situations sometimes. But just dashing about for the hell of it. No don’t do that. Unless you’re Makoto. She kinda has to play a lil reckless.