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Staff photo by Tim Barber/ Not Afraid Of Vehicles -- Two female deer casually walk across the road after grazing along a new fence line in the Chickamauga Battlefield midday Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019.

With fall comes an increased risk of animal-related crashes, largely due to a spike in collisions with deer during mating and hunting season.

New data quantifies that risk nationally, showing drivers annually have a 1 in 116 chance of colliding with an animal, according to a recently released study from State Farm. There's a better chance of being born a twin, but the risk is still worth noting, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The state department regularly alerts drivers to be aware of such risks.

There's a major spike in collisions with deer in Tennessee between October and December. Nearly half of deer-related crashes in the state between 2012 and 2016, when data was last released, occurred during the three fall months. Deer are less aware during mating and hunting season, causing motorists to need to pay extra attention, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Nationally, State Farm estimates there were more than 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims in the U.S. between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019.

10 tips on how to avoid collisions and what drivers should do if they hit an animal

1. When you see a deer cross the road, expect more to follow.

2. Be attentive and drive defensively. Constantly scan the road, especially at dusk and dawn. Pay attention to "deer crossing" and other signs.

3. Use your bright lights when appropriate. The light helps with visibility and may cause the animal to run away.

4. Do not swerve to avoid deer. This can lead to a more serious crash, as the vehicle could flip or collide with oncoming traffic.

5. Slow down immediately when you see a deer. Pass slowly.

6. Don't use a whistle. There is no scientific evidence that vehicle-mounted deer whistles work, according to State Farm.

7. Wear seat belts.

8. If you collide with a deer, never approach the animal. They can cause harm.

9. Report the collision. Call local police, the highway patrol or appropriate state agency. The Tennessee Highway Patrol can be reached by dialing *847.

10. Tennessee law allows deer in collisions to be taken and used as food. Those doing so must report to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regional office within 48 hours of the accident. Region 3, which covers much of the Chattanooga area, can be contacted at 931-484-9571.

— Tips provided by State Farm and the Tennessee Highway Patrol

Contact Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.

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