Plan means police may use 3D laser scanning at crash sites

Plans to roll out 3D laser scanning technology on England’s motorways could shorten road closures due to crashes, according to the government.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has contributed £2.7m to enable 27 police forces across England to purchase a total of 37 scanners.

The technology can quickly create a 3D image of a crash site, removing the need for investigators to survey multiple sections of a scene.

This digital image allows investigators to remotely determine exact vehicle locations and examine other important evidence.

Roads minister Mike Penning said the technology would reduce incident clear-up times by an average of 39 minutes.

‘There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a traffic jam for hours on end,’ he said. ‘But even worse than that is the shocking £1bn 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.’

Individual police forces and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) will also contribute funds to the scheme.

The wider roll-out of 3D laser scanning technology is part of a government-led initiative to maintain traffic flow, recently rebranded ’CLEAR’ (Collision, Lead, Evaluate, Act, Re-open).

In 2010 there were more than 18,000 full or partial motorway closures lasting a total of more than 20,000 hours.

Assistant chief constable Sean White of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said the technology would make an important contribution to investigating fatal and life-changing collisions.

‘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.’