WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — With daylight saving time less than a week away, it’s a telltale sign that fall is entering its last leg.

As daylight hours dwindle, many drivers will be completing their morning and evening commutes in the dark, increasing the chances of animal-related collisions.

According to recent data from AAA, St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties ranked fifth and sixth respectively for the highest number of animal collisions in New York State.

AAA of Western and Central New York Communications Specialist Valerie Puma said this is based on many factors but is likely due to both counties’ rural settings.

“This is something that every driver should be aware of, especially in these colder months, and you need to just be more vigilant,” Puma explained.

Animal collisions, especially involving deer, dramatically begin to increase in the fall. NYS DEC Wildlife Biologist Dr. Steve Herkins said this is directly linked to deer rutting seasons.

“In the fall, and specifically for deer, that change in daylight begins to spur on essentially the rutting behavior, or the mating behavior, in deer,” Dr. Herkins said. “So they breed in the fall and then the does will have fawns in the springtime.”

Spikes in deer activity typically result in more action near roadways, especially during the dawn and dusk hours.

“When you have males looking for females and you get a concentration of does and fawns in a location, you know, that buck might come in there and get to chasing around,” Dr. Herkins added.

To avoid these inevitable risks, AAA recommends all motorists drive defensively, including driving at slower speeds, scanning the roadways, applying brakes firmly and remaining in the correct lane.

“The first step is going to be just paying attention so that you have that time to have the correct reaction rather than doing something that’s going to put yourself and others at risk,” Puma said.

If a motorist does collide with an animal, DEC recommends pulling over, putting signal lights on and calling law enforcement.