CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It doesn’t matter if you drive on rural roads, highways or suburban streets. Crashes involving deer happen everywhere this time of year.

In 2016, in North Carolina, almost 18,000 crashes were reported from colliding with an animal. 90 percent of those crashes were because of deer. Almost half of those crashes happened in the last three months of the year.

“It happened to my friend, it happened to my brother and it’s not going to happen to me,” AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright said. “Until it does happen to you.”

Out of the 100 counties in North Carolina, Mecklenburg County has had the fifth most animal crashes in the state over the last three years. Union County is right behind at sixth.

“There’s still a mix of urban area and some country,” NCDOT spokesperson Jen Thompson said. “So it just goes to show, that you can see them anywhere at any time. It’s not uncommon to see them in neighborhoods, on highways or greenways.”

Late afternoon and early evening is the most common time to encounter deer. Experts remind people to slow down near heavily wooded areas, and if a deer does cross your path don’t swerve.

“Brake hard and don’t swerve,” Wright said. “I can’t stress that enough. You do yourself more harm trying to swerve to avoid hitting an animal.”

It sounds counter-intuitive, but hitting the deer is better than most of the alternatives. “You could overcorrect,” Thompson said. “You could roll your vehicle, and end up doing more damage to your car or injure yourself or somebody else. It’s better to just go ahead and hit the deer.”

Drivers are advised to slow down when they see a deer because where there is one, there are usually more. Also, using high beams can help reflect off of an animal’s eyes making it easier to spot further in advance.