YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Here in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, seeing deer is pretty common. But what do you do when one runs in front of your car while you’re driving?

It’s that time of year to be extra cautious on the road because of deer. Fall is the time of year when deer are moving for a couple of reasons, the main one being mating season. While deer can be cute to look at, they can cause some serious damage to your car or yourself if you’re not careful. It can be scary encountering a deer if you’re not prepared.

Today, we spoke with driving experts and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) about what you should do if you come in close contact with deer while driving.

“Always keep a large space between you and the vehicle in front of you because you never know when they’re going to be slamming on the brakes to try to avoid hitting a deer,” said Greg Anderson with All Star Driving.

Anderson says to use your high beams whenever you can. But, if you do see a deer…

“The deer will actually freeze in the roadway, so turn off your brights and slow way down,” Anderson said.

If there’s enough time and space, you’re encouraged to brake.

“Right before you hit the deer, you want to release your brake. Not go over to the gas but release your brake so that the front of the car will rise up so that you don’t hit the deer low and have them slide onto your hood,” Anderson said.

It’s currently bow hunting season for deer. Dan Wright with ODNR says deer tend to be most active right after sunrise and right before sunset. He says ODNR is accounting for deer collisions and watching the population.

“We are out there harvesting deer, managing these deer numbers,” Wright said.

Deer tend to travel in packs, so if you see one, you can expect more to be nearby.

“Since 2017, there were over 101,000 deer-related crashes in Ohio alone,” said Tiffany Stanley with AAA East Central.

Stanley says 95 percent of those crashes resulted in property damage alone. However, 31 people were killed over the past several years.

“Your best defense is just to be aware. Put your phone down and pay attention, especially when you’re driving in those low-light level times,” Wright said.

The insurance claims are actually really expensive. Stanley says the average claim in Ohio is a little over $4,000 per claim and that’s assuming you don’t total your vehicle. So, you’re encouraged to check with your insurance provider to be sure to have that comprehensive coverage on your vehicle because it’s better to check your insurance policy now than to wish you had it later on.