St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The State Department of Transportation is reminding Minnesota motorists that November is the peak time for deer-vehicle crashes in Minnesota.

From 2013 through 2015, state statistics show there were 6,149 reported deer-vehicle crashes statewide. Those crashes resulted in 15 deaths and almost 950 injuries. So far this year, there have been 5 fatalities stemming from vehicle-deer collisions and the overall deer-vehicle crash total includes four collisions with motorcycles.

The statistics show the crashes involving deer occur in every county of Minnesota, where an annual report by State Farm Insurance has the state ranked seventh among the 50 states for the best odds of hitting deer. The insurance firm says there is a 1-in-74 chance that a motorist in Minnesota will strike a deer or other large animal this year.

For those driving on Minnesota roadways, MnDOT offers these tips:

  • Be particularly alert in the fall and spring. More than half of the crashes happen in late October and November when deer are mating, and in May and June during the birthing season.
  • Be vigilant at dusk and at dawn. A high percentage of crashes occur during the low-light or dark hours of the day when deer move between daytime bedding sites and evening feeding areas.
  • Slow down and scan the sides of the road and ditches for animals when driving through forested lands or near river and stream banks. Especially drive with caution in marked deer-crossing zones and along roads
    surrounded by farmland or forests as these are areas known for large deer populations.
  • Drive defensively and expect the unexpected. If you see a deer near the road, slow down because it might dart in front of you. If you see one deer, look for the next one. Deer often travel together but single file.
  • Don't swerve. While it may seem like the right thing to do, swerving to avoid a deer could cause you to lose control or travel into the path of another vehicle. Striking a deer is safer than colliding with another vehicle or a tree. Stay in your lane, brake firmly and hold onto the steering wheel.
  • Motorcyclists should avoid night and low-light riding times. A rider’s best response when encountering a deer is to use both brakes for maximum braking and to keep their eyes and head up to improve chances of keeping the bike up. Riders should wear full face helmets and full protective gear.