There's nothing worse than planning your commute down to the minute, and then getting waylaid by a traffic accident. Even something as simple as a fender bender or a blowout can cause the following cars to slow down or grind to a halt. Not every accident scene can be avoided, but it's worth keeping an eye out in case an alternate route can be found.
There are old-school, tried and true methods you can use to avoid being slowed by an accident scene, and newer, more high-tech methods.
Turn on the radio. If it's peak traffic time, most AM and FM stations will have regular traffic updates. If it's off-hours, stick to an AM news station that will have updates every 10-30 minutes.
Dial 511 from your cell phone. Most states subscribe to the 511 traffic update system for Interstates and state highways. Most major routes have traffic cameras along the way that you've probably never even noticed. The various Departments of Transport from state to state use these to keep an eye on things. It's something that was imported over from Britain and Europe with much success. Use handsfree, please, to avoid becoming part of an accident, yourself!
There's an app for that! Not every GPS or smartphone map app tells you where there are accidents that could potentially slow you. One that does is Waze. The free, user-controlled app tells you about traffic jams, accidents, speed traps, and even debris on the road ahead. It will help you pick an alternate route. Be a good neighbor and advise via the app if you see something along the way that others might want to avoid or slow down for. You may not just be saving them time - you could save a life.
Police Scanner. Police scanners are open to the public, and there are weird hobby cults built around them. If you can stomach the really bad stuff you may hear, it could save you a lot of time on the roads. The average commuter may not want to opt for this, but for couriers and cab drivers, it can provide both traffic advice and en-route dramatic entertainment.
Google it. Before you hit the road, check with sites like the Accident Data Center, which has continuous updates of major traffic accidents from coast to coast. Other mapping sites, like MapQuest, can download a route onto your smartphone, and it stays updated in real time to let you know of trouble spots along the way.
However you choose to plan your drive, remember to be courteous to those around you, keep your hands off your phone, leave enough distance between you and the car ahead, and maintain a safe speed. You don't want an app or scanner telling some other driver to avoid a crash scene you are a part of.
Also, if you are the first person at the scene of an accident, you are morally and legally obligated to stay until the first emergency vehicle arrives on the scene. If you are capable to providing medical intervention (off duty police, EMS, and doctors, for example), you should assess and do what you can until an ambulance arrives. If you have no medical training, just comforting someone who has been in a traffic accident can keep them calm and even save their lives while waiting for an ambulance.