What do the states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Montana all have in common? They make the top three list of “states with the most drivers in who hit a deer last year.” Winter is when deer go into heat and that makes them a bit more rambunctious when it comes to crossing the road. In other words, they’re not looking where they’re going but you should! These are some of the ways you can avoid having deer collision no matter what state you live in:

Don’t Drive Distracted

That is a rule you should be following regardless of where and when you are driving but it is especially true on rural roads. Remember, it’s not just texting while driving that can be a distraction but also eating food, putting on makeup or changing the radio. Dusk is a very popular time for deer to be on the move so be extra vigilant as the sun goes down.

Stay Alert

If you see one deer by the side of the road, then it’s a safe bet there will be more in the area. Deer will often travel in small herds and the one you see by the side of road could be the “advance scout.” Slow down until you pass through the area.

Hit the Brakes Then Release

Some folks think that if you speed up when you see a deer it minimizes the collision. That is not entirely true. However, when you do hit the brakes it will lower your car’s hood and make it into a kind of ramp. That can increase the force of the collision. A better approach would be when you see the deer, hit the brakes but release the pedal right before the impact. That can slow down the force and let the cars grill do its protective work.

Finally, don’t believe in deer whistles. There are some devices sold as ultrasonic whistles that you can attach to the outside of the car that is meant to startle the deer. However, there has been no data to support whether or not these devices are affected. The worst thing that could happen is that you think you’re safe just because you have a whistle when in reality you might not be.