RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hitting a deer is an unexpected nightmare for any driver that leaves your car heavily damaged.
Experts are seeing more deer-involved wrecks as temperatures drop. That is nothing new for those working at NCDOT; most deer-related car accidents happen in November.
"Last year we had 18,000 crashes involving animals and deer specifically. Over a three year period, nine people have been killed and 3,000 injured," said Andrew Barksdale of NCDOT.
According to NCDOT, Wake County leads the state for the 16th year in a row with the most deer-related collisions. Union County ranks second and Pitt County follows close behind.
"When you see one go across the road, don't think it's safe. Might be another one behind it. Slow down. Look for the eyes of the deer reflecting back at you," said Barksdale.
The increased deer-related collisions mean big business for local body shops. It's forcing mechanics and technicians here into overdrive which requires them to work longer hours and weekends to clear the backlog.
"You definitely see a hike in claims this time of year for sure. A considerable increase. I'd say a 10-15 increase just on deer-related incidents alone," said Peimon Abdollahian with Coats Autobody and Paint. "You always hear the phrase deer in headlights. They'll literally be in the middle of the road and won't budge for anything."
According to NCDOT, deer are more present during the fall and early winter because of hunting and mating seasons. They tend to travel more and are difficult to see at night.
If you're unlucky and happen to hit a deer, experts told ABC11 that cleaning the exteriors of the car before insurance adjusters see it as a bad idea.
"One of the determining factors in proving it's a deer-related incident is going to be those remains. The hair, feces scattered all over the vehicle," said Abdollahian.
DOT warns of increase in deer-related crashes during mating season