New equipment is being tested in the West Midlands to reduce delays suffered by motorists caught in traffic chaos following major motorway accidents.
Last week, two fatal crashes brought gridlock to the M42 and the M5 in the region and lanes remained closed overnight while police investigators collected evidence for investigation.
However, the new survey equipment, developed by project contractor Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), could dramatically reduce the usual six-plus hours needed before lanes can be re-opened.
TRL tested it alongside the police at both of last week's motorway crashes, although the new methods were used only for time comparisons and the police investigations still ran their course as normal.
Only when casualties have been removed and the police have finished can the Highways Agency repair any damage to the road network and routes re-open.
The accident investigation trial in the West Midlands is one of a number of initiatives by the agency to reduce the time it takes to re-open lanes after incidents on England's motorways and major A roads.
It estimates 25 per cent of all motorist delays are caused by accident-related tailbacks.
Ginny Clarke, HA chief highway engineer, said: "We know lane and carriageway closures after incidents are frustrating to drivers, but the police must have time for the essential task of gathering evidence at the scene.
"The HA and the police are now working together to test equipment that can speed up the business of gathering vital evidence so that lanes are reopened more quickly.
"Our motorways and trunk roads are among the safest in the world, but we cannot be complacent and we are working hard to reduce the number of incidents on our network and the consequent delays."
The study in the West Midlands is using high-tech scanning and recording equipment to survey incident sites and provide scene plans suitable for use in a police accident investigation.
Chief Superintendent Nick Croft, from the Central Motorway Police, said: "Both the police and the HA have a duty to the public to seek new and improved ways of working in relation to on-road scene management.
"This trial will provide useful information relating to the potential for the police service to use new types of equipment.
"It could result in significant advances being made in relation to the quality of evidence gathered and the efficiency of the police investigation."
David Kenworthy, council member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and a former Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, said he was pleased to see technology being harnessed to improve accident-related delays.
He said: "Congestion following motorway crashes is bad for road safety. Delayed drivers tend to focus only on making up lost time.
"And of course active collision sites can cause secondary collisions on the other carriageway because of rubbernecking."