New technology is being brought in to reduce the long tailbacks that follow motorway crashes.

Image scanners will generate an instant 3D image of an entire crash site, so that instead of having to build up an image laboriously, section by section, investigators can view the whole site remotely on a computer.

This is expected to cut 39 minutes off the average amount of time it takes before damaged vehicles can be removed and traffic flow resumed.

It has been estimated that in 2010 there were 18,000 partial or full motorway closures lasting a combined total of 20,000 hours, at huge cost to the economy.

The Department for Transport announced that 27 police forces in England have been given £2.7m to buy 37 new scanners. The grants will arrive in January.

Mike Penning, the Transport minister, said: "There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a traffic jam for hours on end. But even worse is the shocking £1bn cost of those lost hours for our economy."

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