Chapter 12: If You Are in a Traffic Crash

chapter 12


Note:  Practice quizzes are available only for those sections of the manual covering rules of the road (Chapters 4 through 11 and Road Signs).


There are more than 300,000 traffic crashes in New York State each year. If you obey the law and follow the advice in this manual, you have a good chance of avoiding crashes. Still, even the most careful drivers are involved in crashes caused by unexpected events or the mistakes of other drivers. If you are involved in a traffic crash, you must be ready to react responsibly at the scene and obey the law in reporting the incident.

You may choose to carry a basic emergency kit in your vehicle, containing flares and first aid supplies. Emergency road-kits often are available in automotive or department stores.


If you are involved in a crash you must stop, regardless of the extent of damage. It is a traffic violation to leave the scene of an incident, such as a traffic crash involving property damage. It is a criminal violation to leave the scene of an incident involving a fatality or personal injury. Even if the crash involves only property damage, you must exchange information with other drivers involved. Give your name, address, the motorist identification (ID) number from your license, and vehicle registration and insurance information, including the insurance policy number and effective date, to the other drivers and police on the scene. If a parked vehicle or property other than a vehicle is damaged, or if a domestic animal is injured, you must try to locate the owner or notify the police.

If any person is injured or killed, the police must be notified, immediately, and you should make sure an ambulance or rescue squad has been called.

If possible, move your vehicle off the road. Protect the scene with reflectors or flares, but be alert for leaking fuel. Be sure to protect yourself and others from oncoming traffic.



Do not stop at a crash scene unless you are involved or emergency help has not yet arrived. Otherwise, keep your attention on driving and the directions given by traffic officers.

Follow these basic first-aid tips if help is not immediately available:

  • Do not move an injured person unless it is absolutely necessary because of fire or another life threatening danger. If you must move an injured person, keep the back and neck as straight as possible by putting your arms under the back, and gently support the neck with your upper arms. Take hold of clothing with your hands, and pull the victim headfirst away from danger.

  • If there are wires down, do not go near them. If wires are touching the vehicle or lying near it, warn occupants to stay inside until help arrives.

  • Check to see if the injured person is breathing. If the person is not breathing and you are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), begin administering CPR or mouth-to-mouth breathing as shown below.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)

If necessary, carefully position the victim on his or her back, then open the airway as shown. Listen for breathing, look for the chest to rise and fall and feel for flow of air. If the victim is not breathing, begin rescue breathing.

To rescue-breath, seal your lips over the victim's mouth, pinch the nose closed and give two full breaths, watching for the chest to rise. Remove your mouth to allow air to escape. If the chest does not rise, carefully reposition the victim's head to open the airway. Check to see if the victim is breathing. If he or she is not breathing, give one breath every five seconds, pausing every few minutes to see if the victim is breathing without assistance. If the victim is breathing, stop rescue-breathing.

CPR Illustrations courtesy of American Medical Association. Used by permission.


If you are involved in a traffic crash involving a fatality or personal injury, you must report it to DMV. You must also report any traffic incident or crash involving $1000 or more in damage to any one person's property. The form Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104) is available at any motor vehicle office, from most insurance agents, by request from a DMV Call Center, and from the DMV Internet Office.

Reporting a crash or incident to your insurance company does not fulfill your legal obligation. You must file a report with DMV within 10 days of the event. Your license may be suspended if you don't.

If the driver is injured and unable to complete the report, a passenger or the vehicle owner may do so.


End of Chapter 12:  no quiz for this chapter

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