Traffic delays on West country roads sparked by accidents will be cut with
the introduction of high-tech 3D laser scanners to record crash scenes.
Currently police investigators scour various sections of road where a collision has taken place to gather evidence, causing stretches of motorway and road to be closed
But scanners will mean a digital image of the site can be viewed on a computer screen remotely, allowing investigators to take measurements of where vehicles are in relation to each other and examine other evidence.
The move comes after the Government gave Devon and Cornwall Police £129,605 to pay for two scanners, Avon & Somerset £155,260 for two and Dorset £56,333 for one scanner.
Mike Penning, roads minister at the Department for Transport said the three forces were sharing in a £2.7 million pot spread across England.
He 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 and key roads re-opened as quickly as possible.
"The £341,000 funding award to the Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset and the Dorset police forces 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."
Assistant Chief Constable Sean White, of Cleveland Police, lead officer for collision investigation of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said scanners would be used day and night and help investigations.
He said: "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 make a real difference to improving the capability of collision investigators, reducing delays for all road users and reopening motorways and other strategic roads at the earliest opportunity."
Nick Gargan, chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency welcomed the move.
He 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."
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "This is a gift for all those drivers who have ever been stuck
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Hindhead Tunnel opens northbound
BBC news: 29July 2011
The northbound carriageway of the £371m Hindhead Tunnel at the Devil's Punch Bowl in Surrey has opened to traffic.
The Highways Agency said that following a site meeting at 09:00 BST on Friday the carriageway opened at 11:25 BST.
After construction vehicles were moved away, the first traffic received a police escort through the tunnel.
Southbound traffic began using the 1.1 mile (1.8km) tunnel, on the London-to-Portsmouth A3 on Wednesday.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond cut the ribbon to officially open the road tunnel, which has taken four and a half years to build.
Highways Agency spokesman said road alignments to allow traffic to enter the northbound tunnel could not be done until the southbound was open.
An access road from the site office also had to be removed.
Dartford Crossing fee suspension trial under fire
BBC news: 29July 2011
Motorists say a trial of waiving charges at the Dartford Crossing when there is severe congestion has made no difference to traffic delays there.
Hauliers say the fees have not once been lifted in the first month, despite massive congestion.
They say the 10-mile-queue criterion has frequently been triggered in that time but the charges never dropped.
The Highways Agency says other criteria, such as vehicle speed in the queues, have not yet been reached.
The trial, which began at the beginning of July, is part of a traffic-management package for the crossing, which comprises a dual tunnel northbound and bridge southbound, linking Essex and Kent.
The Highways Agency proposes to raise road charges there from £1.50 to £2.50 in 2012, and in an effort to reduce the most severe congestion in the area, it says it will suspend charges "in emergency situations" during the experiment.
Highways Agency to feed data to TomTom
Guardian: 13 July 2011
The Highways Agency has reached an agreement with TomTom to feed real time traffic information on England's motorways and major A roads into the company's satnav services for road users.
It already provides the information to drivers through its own channels, but will now add a feed to TomTom's High Definition Traffic Services, which allows users to check for delays in their area before they set off on a journey.
The agency will provide the information in a Datex II format, which it helped develop as a European standard for the exchange of road data information. It said the new arrangement will be particularly beneficial to families going on holiday over the next few months.
Roads minister Mike Penning, said: "Through our national traffic control centre, we source up to the minute traffic data from the motorways and other major roads we manage, and we want to get that information out to road users where and when they need it most.
"This agreement between the Highways Agency and TomTom is a good example of public and private sectors working together to assist road users and exploit today's technology."
He said the agency works with a number of third party organisations to get its information to as wide an audience as possible.
Fixed penalty fine for road block driver
HGV UK: 29 July 2011
A driver in Greater Manchester has been handed a £60 fine and three penalty points after driving towards a roadworker clearing debris on the M66 last month.
Highways Agency Traffic Officers from the outstation at Milnrow near Rochdale were operating a rolling road block along the M60 near the Simister Island interchange on Thursday, June 23, when the incident happened.
In spite of the ‘Don’t Pass’ message at the back of the Traffic Officers’ high visibility patrol car, the driver headed past the block onto the M66 where another Traffic Officer was about to walk out onto the northbound carriageway to remove the hazardous debris.
The operation had to be aborted temporarily and the driver’s vehicle registration reported to the police.
Rolling road blocks are used by police and Highways Agency Traffic Officers to slow down traffic and hold it back – creating a safe environment ahead to allow them to remove broken down vehicles or hazardous debris.
Straight after last month’s incident an officer from Greater Manchester Police visited the driver at home and she later received a Fixed Penalty Notice of £60 as well as three penalty points on her driving licence.
John McTaggart, Regional Operations Manager in charge of the Highways Agency’s North West Traffic Officer Service, which has its regional headquarters at the Regional Control Centre near Junction 23 of the M6 at Newton-le-Willows, said, “We applaud Greater Manchester Police for its swift action in this case. Statements were taken and the driver fined within 23 hours of the incident.
“Highways Agency Traffic Officers and other roadworkers need to be sure they can work safely at incidents and roadworks without the fear of drivers breaking through cones or rolling roadblocks – putting themselves and the roadworkers at risk of serious injury or death.
“Drivers need to be aware it is an offence to ignore the instructions of Highways Agency Traffic Officers. Drivers risk a fine, driving ban or even a jail sentence if they fail to comply with those directions and drive into protected areas of the motorway where Traffic Officers and other roadworkers are just trying to get on with their jobs – making the roads safer for everyone else
New Zealand Motorways Update
But the new link is expected to improve travel times and ease congestion between west Auckland, the North Shore and Hibiscus Coast-Rodney.
Up to 35,000 vehicles daily will use the new Hobsonville route with about 14,000 a day on the State Highway 16 northwest Brigham Creek extension. The $220 million project opens at least six months ahead of schedule. It was forecast to open mid-2012 when started in October 2008.
A good first summer and hard work with about 350 workers on site at any one time has helped bring fast fruition, HEB Construction project manager Steve Croft says.
Officially it's the 5.6km SH18 Hobsonville Deviation from Westgate to the Upper Harbour Bridge leading to Albany and SH1, and the 4.2km SH16 Brigham Creek Extension from Westgate to the new Brigham Creek roundabout before Kumeu.
Most of it is two lanes each side, but at the SH16 Westgate interchange it broadens to 11 lanes if you include on and off ramps.
If that sounds confusing, NZ Transport Agency Auckland state highways manager Tommy Parker reckons motorists should have it sorted in a week or two.
But don't think it will stop all congestion just yet.
About two-thirds of current Hobsonville Rd traffic is expected to be diverted, easing problems there which include one of the worst crash records in Auckland.
However, Mr Parker expects some delays in peak hours around the Westgate area, possibly until the full 48km western ring route bypassing Auckland city is completed around 2020.Traffic could also bottleneck where the Brigham Creek roundabout funnels to one lane heading northwest.
``Traffic modelling shows we can get by there for a few years.''
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Officers hunt men found in back of lorry
Cambridge News: 29 July 2011
Traffic was disrupted on the A14 when police swooped on a group of suspected illegal immigrants who were fleeing a service station.
Police officers put a 10mph rolling road block in place on the A14 westbound at around midday yesterday while they searched for nine people who ran off after they were found in the back of a Slovakian lorry at Cambridge Services.
The group of men were found by the driver as he stopped at the services shortly before 11.50am. He immediately alerted the police.
They tried to make off towards the A14 but police detained them and the road was cleared at around 12.50pm.
An eyewitness said: “A Highways Agency officer was alerted by a member of the public who saw the lorry curtain being cut open and approximately 16 immigrants climbing out. The officer saw what was happening and ran after the group.”
The immigrants were taken to Thorpe Wood police station in Peterborough where they were detained.
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