CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The sun is setting earlier and one risk associated with the end of Daylight Savings Time is the increased potential for deer-vehicle accidents.

According to preliminary data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS), there have been 4,581 deer-vehicle collisions, resulting in 1 death and 387 injuries, so far in 2021. That’s up from 2,735 collisions in 2020 and 3,086 collisions in 2019.

David Lucas, Coastal Region Public Information Coordinator for SCDNR, said more deer-related accidents happen around this time of year for a couple of reasons.

First, peak deer mating season coincides with the end of Daylight Savings Time at the end of October and the beginning of November. During this time, deer are more active so the likelihood of seeing one on your drive is higher. Deer are also most active at dawn and dusk, the times that people are usually traveling to and from work.

SCDPS and SCDNR share the following tips to avoid hitting a deer:

  1. Pay attention on rural roads, especially near farmlands and woods where habitats change. You are most likely to spot a deer here!
  2. Pay attention to deer crossing signs. They are there for a reason.
  3. Deer travel in herds. If you see one, there are probably more close by.
  5. If you spot a deer far away, slow down, honk your horn, and flash your lights.
  6. If the spot a deer close, DO NOT honk your horn or flash your lights. Deer are unpredictable animals and doing so may spook the animal causing it to dart out in front of your vehicle.

Contrary to popular belief, Trooper Pye from SCDPS said the most important step is to slow down as much as possible.

“If you’re going down the road and you see that object in front of you, that animal in front of you, 100 feet ahead and you start applying the brakes safely, you may number one avoid the animal, and number two you may not hit it that hard and fatally injure it,” Pye said.

If you do hit a deer, you should immediately call 911 if any injuries occurred and contact SC Highway Patrol or local law enforcement.

The best way to avoid a deer-vehicle crash? Trooper Pye said it is to stay alert and drive under the speed limit.

“It comes down to just being aware,” Pye said. “If you’re driving when it’s dark or early in the morning or late in the evening, know that we live in South Carolina and deer are everywhere.”