The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish & Wildlife is reminding Delaware motorists to be alert for deer crossing roadways.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish & Wildlife is reminding Delaware motorists to be alert for deer crossing roadways.

“At the end of our work day, as we’re heading home, deer are just beginning their peak movement time,” said Emily Boyd, Division of Fish & Wildlife deer biologist. “From dusk to midnight and within a few hours of sunrise are when motorists need to be especially alert and watch for deer on the road.”

The average white-tailed deer in Delaware weighs about 130 pounds, with larger bucks tipping the scales at 180 pounds or more. Hitting an animal that size can damage a vehicle.

In 2015, Delaware police departments logged a statewide total of 1,791 deer-vehicle crashes – a 5.4 percent increase from 1,699 in 2014. Crashes reported in 2015 resulted in two fatalities, 63 personal injuries and 1,726 property damage cases. Through September, 984 deer-related crashes had been reported, with no fatalities, 35 personal injuries and 949 property damage cases. In October, Delaware motorists were involved in 166 deer-vehicle crashes reported to police, with the highest number of collisions expected in November.

National statistics also show that at least half of all deer-vehicle collisions occur during October, November and December, with the highest number of deer struck on the roadways in November followed by October. The Delaware Department of Transportation removed 1,289 deer from Delaware’s roadways in 2015 — an increase from 847 in 2014.

State Farm Insurance recently reported that motorists made more than 4,900 deer-vehicle collision insurance claims in Delaware between July 1, 2015 and June 30, compared to 5,113 during the same time period in 2014-15. Delaware ranks 28th this year out of the 41 states in State Farm’s annual report on deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to occur. Delaware is considered a medium-risk state with a 1-in-148 chance of a collision, compared to the national average of 1 in 164. Average property damage claims in deer-vehicle collisions run $3,995.

Attentive driving is considered the best way to avoid deer collisions. The Delaware Office of Highway Safety, Delaware police agencies, auto insurance companies and the Division of Fish & Wildlife offered tips:

—Turn headlights on at dawn and dusk and keep eyes on the road, scanning the sides of the road as well as what’s ahead. When there is no oncoming traffic, switch to high beams to better reflect the eyes of deer on or near the roadway. To reduce risk of injury in a collision, always wear a seatbelt.

—Be especially aware of any distractions that might take eyes off the road, even if only momentarily, such as cellphones, adjusting the radio, eating or passenger activities.

—Watch for deer crossing signs that mark commonly-traveled areas and be aware that deer typically cross between areas of cover, such as woods or where roads divide agricultural fields from woods.

—If a deer is crossing the road ahead, motorists should slow down immediately and proceed with caution until they are past the crossing point. Deer usually travel in groups, so if one deer is seen, there are likely to be others.

—Slow down and blow the horn with one long blast to frighten deer away. Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer, as these devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.

—Do not swerve to miss a deer; brake and stay in the lane. Losing control of a vehicle, crossing into another lane, hitting an oncoming vehicle or leaving the roadway and hitting another obstacle, such as a tree or a pole is likely to be much more serious than hitting a deer.

—If a deer is hit, stop at the scene, get the car off the road if possible and call police. Do not touch the animal or get too close.

Anyone who would like to take possession of a deer killed on the road can obtain a vehicle-killed deer tag from DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, or other police agencies throughout the state. For information, call 739-9913.