(WFXR) — With May being National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, experts say we could see even more motorcyclists on the road this summer due to the rise in gas prices, so safety will be crucial.

Christopher Gallimore, a Roanoke motorcyclist, says he just lost a close friend last week due to a motorcycle crash.

“Regardless of what happened in that moment, whether it was someone in the car’s fault, whether it was Devvin’s fault, whether it was a road condition fault, Devvin is no longer here with us, so tomorrow, we say goodbye to him and that’s something that you don’t quite get over,” said Gallimore.

Gallimore says his friend crossed a double yellow line and crashed head-on into a car. He is not sure if speed and/or gravel on the roadway played a role in the crash, but Gallimore says gravel is a hazard to motorcyclists since it can be easy for motorcycles to slide.

According to the Roanoke motorcyclist, incidents like the one that led to his friend’s death stopped him from riding in the streets. Instead, he prefers to ride on the track at Virginia International Raceway outside of Danville.

“There’s two sides of the coin. There’s people who aren’t paying attention to them; there’s motorcycle riders that may be making the wrong decision; and then it’s not all the time that the blame is on either one,” Gallimore explained. “It’s that people have to take their own self-accountability of, ‘did I do the right decision at that moment?'”

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, between 2000 and 2019, motorcycle deaths jumped by 73%.

Len Stevens with the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Lynchburg District says no matter what you are driving, you have to obey the rules of the road.

“If you are very vigilant with your speed, if you are looking around and being careful and watching any threat to you as a motorcyclist, you should be very aware and drive defensively,” said Stevens.

Both Stevens and Gallimore say it’s also crucial to have the right kind of equipment and helmet.

“A lot of times in the warmer weather, we don’t like to wear big bulky leather jackets, but they can be very helpful if you are in an accident,” said Stevens.

According to Gallimore, his clothes have protected him from road rash multiple times.

In addition, Stevens encourages motorcyclists to always have their headlights on so other vehicles can spot them more easily.

Virginia State Police is gearing up to offer its “Ride 2 Save Lives” motorcycle self-assessment courses across the Commonwealth from now through October. You can check out the dates and locations of these sessions by clicking here.