Be extra vigilant on New Jersey roads this fall as white-tailed deer mating season gets underway and daylight hours decrease. That's the reminder from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Deer are more likely to suddenly jet out into the roadways this time of year as bucks pursue does, thus increasing the risk for sudden stops and car accidents.

The DEP said deer activity is more likely to occur during the early morning hours and around sunset, when more motorists are driving to and from work, and when visibility may be difficult.

"Deer are involved in thousands of collisions with motor vehicles in New Jersey, every year, most of which occur during the fall mating season," DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Dave Golden said.

When is deer mating season in New Jersey?

Statewide, peak mating season for deer runs from October into mid-December. Awareness will become even more important when daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7.

High beams will be reflected by the eyes of the deer.

How can motorists stay safe during the peak of the annual fall rut? 

Motorists should slow down if they see a deer and watch for possible sudden movement. If the deer is in the road and doesn't move, wait for the animal to cross the road. Do not try to drive around the deer.

Watch for "Deer Crossing" signs. Slow down when traveling through such areas known to have a high concentration of deer, so there is enough time to stop.

Use high beams after dark if there is no oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of the deer. So if there's one, assume that others may be in the area.

Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer.

Don't tailgate. The driver ahead might have to stop suddenly to avoid a deer collision.

Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law. Drive at a safe and sensible speed, following the speed limit, factoring for weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.

Do not swerve to avoid impact if a collision appears inevitable. A deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake appropriately and stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic.

Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.

Obey the state's hands-free device law or refrain from using cellular devices while driving.

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