CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) Deer collisions are increasing through the commonwealth, with record highs that haven’t been seen since 2002. According to AAA, last year deer crashes between the months of October and December jumped to nearly 17,00. That’s equivalent to one deer crash every 80 minutes.

“Deer crashes and collision with large animals can happen anytime of year but this is really peak season for it. It’s mating season for them they often are a little more aggressive a little more willing to come out out of the woods out of the shadows that’s a recipe for crashes,” said Mark Schieldrop, AAA Northeast.

Crashes are most common between 5pm and 7pm. AAA said that the best defense is to be prepared and alert. Drivers should scan the shoulders of the road to watch for deer dashing out, or wooded areas adjacent to the road. Use high beams along dark roadways if there’s no incoming traffic.

“So just be ready for it give yourself that safe following distance anticipate it so that if you do encounter a deer you can avoid that collision or seriously reduce the impact of a crash if you have no choice but you end up hitting a deer,” said Schieldrop.

Armani Osorio of Boston told 22News “I like to keep within the speed limit even just slow down a bit if you feel like there’s something maybe ready to jump right out if the woods and onto the roads I always get the feeling to and it always happens.”

If the deer or large animal is unavoidable AAA advises drivers to apply the brakes and avoid swerving sharply into another lane to avoid a serious car crash.