CHICAGO (CBS) — With the onset of autumn and deer mating season, Illinois State Police are warning drivers to be vigilant as deer become more active and a bigger threat on the roads.

Rural areas are the most dangerous for crashes involving deer, and more than 40% of crashes involving deer occurred in October, November and December in 2018.

Deer will be more active particularly in the morning and evening hours.

“As the risk of deer-vehicle crashes peak during fall, drivers can help ensure they reach their destinations safely by remembering a few important tips,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Most importantly, don’t veer for deer. While your first instinct when facing a deer in the headlights may be to swerve, doing so could cause you to lose control of the vehicle and increase the severity of a crash.”

ISP offers the following tips for drivers:

• Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to deer crossing signs.
• Scan the sides of the road for eye shine – the reflection of headlights in the eyes.
• Slow down if you see deer. They travel in groups, so more are likely nearby.
• Prepare for the unexpected. Deer can stop in the middle of the road or double back.
• If a collision is inevitable, try to glance the vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into the opposite lanes of traffic.

There were 15,636 crashes involving deer in Illinois in 2018. Of those 630 caused injuries to people. Eight of those were fatal, according to ISP.

Most crashes involving deer in Illinois happened in Cook County.

“If you do hit a deer, remember to report the accident to local law enforcement or a conservation police officer. They can help control traffic, clear the roadway or in the event that the animal must be euthanized,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan.