Autumn often means drivers are faced with the increased presence of deer on the roads. With fewer hours of daylight, it’s also harder for drivers to see them, which is one reason insurance claims for deer strikes spike in the fall.

Gisela Aydin said she barely had time to think before crashing into a deer.

“The second I crossed his path he jumped right in front of my car,” Aydin told CTV News.

Fortunately she wasn’t hurt but her car was badly damaged.

“It was devastating, to be honest. I had this car, it was adorable, and 30 minutes into owning it – gone,” she added.

ICBC reports about 11,000 animal collisions in B.C. every year.

And in the U.S., one study estimated there were more than 1.9 million insurance claims for collisions with animals in a recent one-year period. Another found that the average claim was $2,730.

So what can you do to avoid hitting a deer? First, slow down, especially at dawn and dusk, when deer are most active. And use your high beams as often as you can to make sure you’re seeing further down the road.

And because deer tend to travel in groups, if you see one run across the road, expect others to follow.

“If a deer runs out in front of you, you do not want to swerve — that can put you at risk for hitting another vehicle or losing control of your car,” said Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Reports auto expert.

Instead, Consumer Reports recommends that you slow down as quickly and safely as you can. In most cases, you’re more likely to survive a deer strike than a collision with another vehicle.

If you do hit a deer, pull over to a safe spot on the side of the road and call the police and animal control. Get out of the car—but don’t approach the animal—and take pictures of the scene for your insurance company.

Some drivers use aftermarket devices on their front bumpers called “deer whistles” to help prevent collisions with deer. However, there have been no studies that prove they actually work and it’s important to remember that animal behavior is unpredictable, and you should always practice cautious driving habits.

With files from Consumer Reports