Drivers across England are to benefit from shorter motorway closures after crashes thanks to the roll-out of 3D laser scanning technology funded by the Government and police, Roads Minister Mike Penning announced today.
The Department for Transport has awarded 27 police forces across England a total of £2.7million. The funding, together with police and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) contributions, will enable them to purchase 37 scanners.
The technology saves time by quickly making a 3D image of the whole crash site, rather than investigators painstakingly surveying multiple sections of a scene. This digital image of the site can then be viewed on a computer screen remotely allowing investigators to take measurements of where vehicles are in relation to each other and examine other important evidence.
The wider roll-out of 3D laser scanning technology is part of a Government-led initiative known as ‘CLEAR’. This initiative is delivering an action plan aimed at reducing delays caused by incidents in order to keep traffic moving – a vital element in securing the UK’s prosperity.
Mike Penning said:
“There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a traffic jam for hours on end. But even worse than that is the shocking £1 billion cost of those lost hours for our economy. That is why we are determined to improve the clear-up of accidents so we can get our motorways re-opened as quickly as possible.
“Today’s £131,800 DfT funding awarded to West Mercia Police Force will see 3D laser scanners rolled out quickly where they are needed most. This will benefit drivers by reducing incident clear up times by 39 minutes on average.
“I would like to thank police forces for seizing this opportunity to purchase laser scanners and contributing funds towards the purchase. This clearly demonstrates how forces are committed to helping to keep traffic moving, in support of economic growth, as well as continuing to deliver their vital role in ensuring the safety and security of all road users. I would also like to thank the National Policing Improvement Agency for providing a contribution to the funding.”
Last year (2010) there were more than 18,000 full or partial motorway closures lasting a total of more than 20,000 hours.
A Government strategy to tackle congestion caused by motorway closures and drive down the £1bn annual cost to the economy was published in May by the Minister.
Assistant Chief Constable Sean White, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said:
“On behalf of the police service we welcome enormously this important funding opportunity that has been made possible by Government through the Department for Transport. The provision of the latest, leading edge 3D laser scanning technology to assist in the expeditious and detailed scanning of collision scenes will make a very important contribution to properly investigating fatal and life changing collisions whilst always being mindful of the level of economic and other disruption that closures of the strategic road network inevitably cause.
“Police forces acquiring this equipment will be in a better position to manage such critical events in a more efficient way and present the most accurate and detailed evidence from the laser scanning devices to criminal, civil and coroners’ courts. The equipment will be deployed day and night across England and will make a real difference to improving the capability of collision investigators, reducing delays for all road users and re-opening motorways and other strategic roads at the earliest opportunity.
“As agencies we will work together in the months ahead to closely monitor the introduction of this new equipment to ensure that the benefits of this investment are fully realised both for collision investigation and the free flow of traffic.”
Chief Constable Nick Gargan, the Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), said:
“The 3D laser scanning project is innovative and will enable motorways to be opened more quickly after incidents, passing a direct benefit to the public. The National Policing Improvement Agency is pleased to support the project, which also brings significant improvements in supporting better outcomes in policing and increased efficiency in officer time.
“The project also supports a standardised approach to surveying motorway incident scenes, in line with the police service’s Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS) strategy of using IT to enable business change within the service.”
Successful bidders will start to receive their grants in January 2012 to enable them to put the technology to use quickly on motorways and major A roads – benefiting road users across the country.