The Missouri State Highway Patrol is reminding drivers that deer are more active and can create hazards for motorists this time of year.

Drivers are reminded that an attempt to avoid striking a deer could result in a more serious crash involving oncoming traffic.

MSHP encourages drivers try to remain calm, as panicking and overreacting can lead to more serious traffic crashes.

The Patrol says the best course of action is to reduce speed. Other drivers may be doing the same, so be sure to pay attention to traffic patterns.

Last year, Missouri experienced 4,090 traffic crashes involving vehicles striking deer. In these crashes, there were six fatalities and 415 people were injured. The majority of deer strike crashes occur in October and November each year, with the largest number taking place in November. The Patrol says most crashes involving deer occur between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 a.m., and then again from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Deer often travel in groups - stay on guard after a close call or when you see a single deer. Natural features also affect deer movement. In some areas where there are streams or wooded corridors surrounded by farmland, look for more deer to cross roadways.

At night, watch for deer eyes to reflect your headlights, which could give you more time to react to their presence.

Deer behavior changes due to mating season, which may cause an increase in sightings and roadway crossings. Hunting and crop harvesting may result in these animals being in places they aren’t usually seen.

Drivers are urged to remain alert. If you strike a deer, call 9-1-1 or *55 on a cell phone and report it.