Scene of an Accident Protocol

Most drivers have been involved in a traffic accident, from a simple "fender bender" to a more serious collision that might involve injuries or even fatalities.

In 2007 alone, more than 6 million vehicular accidents were reported in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

So even if you have been fortunate enough to stay out of harm's way while on the road, it wouldn't hurt to have some guidelines just in case you catch yourself in a traffic mishap.

Keep a roadside emergency kit on in your vehicle.

You never know what can happen while driving so it's always best to be prepared. A properly stocked roadside emergency kit should include items such as jumper cables, roadside flares, a tire pressure gauge and inflator, and a flashlight with extra batteries. First aid supplies also are essential for your emergency kit. Make sure to have items like antiseptic cleansing wipes, gauze and plastic bandages, tape, a cold compress, scissors and latex gloves.

Staying safe is the first priority.

After a traffic accident, you should first check yourself and your passengers to see if anyone has been injured. If someone is hurt, summon medical assistance right away. Once your condition and that of your passengers has been established, you should move your vehicle off to the side of the road if possible. It is unsafe to continue to sit in traffic and a two-car fender bender could turn into a multiple-car pileup very quickly. If you are unable to move your vehicle, make sure to stay in your car until the police arrive.

Record all details.

When the police arrive, you will want to get their names so that you can refer back them later when reviewing the accident details. Additionally, you shouldn't rely solely on the police report to tell your side of the story. A good tip is to keep a disposable camera in your car so that you can take your own photographs of the accident. In addition, you should write down all details pertaining to the accident - what happened just before the collision, what your actions were, what the actions of the other driver were. These types of details might be difficult to remember later.

Exchange information with the other driver.

If involved in an accident with another driver, make sure to exchange the following information with that driver: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver's license number and license plate number. You also should write a description of each vehicle, including the make, model, year and color.

Contact your insurance company and know what your policy covers.

After exchanging information with the other driver, you next move should be to contact your insurance company to let them know that you've been in an accident and to give them your version of the events. Additionally, you should be aware of what exactly your policy covers. You might find out that the actual cost to repair your car manageable enough to avoid going through your insurer and incurring a premium hike.

File an accident report with the police department.

Often police will not respond to minor accidents if injuries are not involved. However, having a police report on hand can assist in speeding up the insurance claims process. You can file a report at your local police station or by downloading a form from the Department of Motor Vehicles' website.