RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As the weather gets warmer and roads get busier, local law enforcement is encouraging drivers to stay alert and look out for more motorcycles on the road.

(Ray Duffy/CBS 17)

“It’s not unusual to see motorcyclists who just want to get out and ride and take advantage of a pretty day on a nice, open highway,” said Deputy Beckley Vaughan with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.

He said with more people on the road, comes a higher risk for crashes.

“Motorcycle crashes tend to go up in weather like this and during the summer time, and with an increase in motorcycle crashes is an increase in injuries and fatalities,” he explained.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the Wake County Sheriff’s Office is one of many agencies encouraging drivers to stay alert during the busy travel season.

“One of the things that we’ve seen over the last several years is a decrease in courtesy,” Deputy Vaughan said. “And it’s important to be able to share the road. Not just with cars, trucks, tractor trailers… but motorcyclists as well.”

According to a new report from Forbes, five North Carolina cities make the Top 100 in the U.S. for motorcycle deaths. It includes Raleigh and Durham.

Deputies said the key to staying safe is being prepared.

“It’s not always the fact that a motorcyclist can be a good motorcycle rider, but they have to be a good defensive driver as well,” Deputy Vaughan said.

They suggest motorcyclists take classes, use turn signals and headlights and wear protective gear.

“Certainly wear a helmet. And not just any helmet, but a DOT-approved helmet. One that’s going to help you. If you need a helmet and you don’t have one, it’s too late,” Deputy Vaughan said.

For other drivers, his advice is to stay alert and keep the phones down.

“Be observant, be courteous. Make sure that you give motorcyclists the space and room that they need,” he said.

Especially during the busy travel season, Deputy Vaughan said one of the safest places to ride a motorcycle is in a rural area.

“Take advantage of the rural areas,” he said. “There’s a lot of rural areas up here and there’s a lot of pretty scenery in this area. Go out in some of these rural areas. You don’t necessarily have to be in these high traffic areas.”