COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Drivers beware - the risk of colliding with deer is greater in the coming months. The increase in risk from October through January is primarily due to peak deer mating season.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety reports there were 20,996 deer-vehicle crashes last year, down 7.5 percent from 22,696 in 2011. There were six related fatalities and 1,013 injuries in Ohio last year. This compares to seven fatalities and 1,031 injuries reported in 2011, and four deaths and 1,063 injuries in 2010.

The five counties with the highest number of reported deer-vehicle crashes in 2012 were Stark (559), Richland (535), Hamilton (522), Clermont (472) and Lorain (470). Compared to 2011 figures, Clermont County showed an increase while the others reported decreases in such collisions in 2012.

Counties reporting the fewest crashes in 2012 included Monroe (15), Morgan (27), Carroll (26), Harrison (37) and Perry (43) counties. Of these, Perry county showed an increase while the others experienced decreases in 2012. View 2010-12 Ohio county deer crashes.

Most deer-vehicle crashes occur at dusk and dawn from October to January during deer-breeding season. Last November there were 5,050 crashes - the highest number for any month. According to data from the ODPS and ODNR, peak hours for these crashes were 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. followed by 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. In 2012, almost 54 percent of these crashes occurred between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. while 23 percent occurred early morning between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Vehicle damage varies dramatically depending on the type of vehicle, its speed upon impact and area of the vehicle that sustains the hit. According to data from State Farm, vehicle damage from deer collisions averages $3,414 per claim nationally. Crashes that include injuries could increase costs significantly.
Some crashes involve multiple vehicles. The Ohio Insurance Institute estimates Ohio auto damages approached $72.3 million in 2012 based on the average cost per claim and number of vehicles involved in crashes.

(Photo courtesy Getty Images)