The thermometer isn’t showing it yet — Monday, which marked the end of September, was yet another hot, summer-like day — but the weather is going to cool off soon and the sun will be setting earlier as the calendar moves toward winter.

With that in mind, the Mississippi Department of Transportation issued a reminder for motorists to start paying a little more attention when they’re driving through rural areas, because deer will become more active.

MDOT’s press release said Mississippi averages more than 3,600 deer-related collisions every year. In 2018, there were 3,855 of them in the state.

As anyone whose vehicle has hit a deer can attest, the animals can cause severe damage. Many of the collisions put lives at risk — and not just the unfortunate deer.

Here are some safe-driving suggestions for the coming months:

• Don’t veer to one side if a deer runs into the road in front of your vehicle. Swerving can cause a driver to lose control and potentially cause an even more serious accident. The better action is to brake firmly.

• Take extra care at night. More than half of the state’s deer collisions occur between 5 p.m. and midnight, while another 20 percent of them occur in the early morning.

• Use your bright lights whenever possible at night to illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the road.

• Be aware that deer typically travel in a herd. If you see one or two deer beside road, it almost certainly means that more of them are nearby, so be careful.

Deer collisions can occur anywhere — on an interstate, a state highway or a county road. The best suggestion for nighttime drivers in the next few months is to slow down a little bit. Reducing your speed by just 5 miles per hour, will extend your trip by a few minutes, but it may give you the extra time needed to prevent an expensive and dangerous collision.

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