April 3, 2006 9:54 AM PDT

Police test road-crash GPS program

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Police in the U.K. are testing the use of handheld PCs with GPS data to speed up their investigations of road accidents.

The U.K.'s Highways Agency is working with local police forces in Surrey and Warwickshire as part of a three-month trial, which began last week. Police will get access to traffic survey data using handheld PCs to pinpoint accident locations, along with any other information that they need.

Road accidents can take as long as six hours to investigate, during which whole roads or traffic lanes and sections may be closed. The trial program is aimed at speeding up the time it takes for police to make a site survey and get traffic moving again.

Ginny Clarke, the Highways Agency's chief highways engineer, said in a statement: "We hope that by using innovative new technology we will able to cut the time the police spend on vital investigations, get traffic moving again more quickly, and reduce congestion for England's motorways and major roads."

Lane closures after accidents are blamed for a quarter of all congestion as police take time to survey the area, followed by the Highways Agency moving in to make any repairs.

Last week the Highways Agency also announced the opening of the National Traffic Control Centre to provide more effective real-time updates on the state of the U.K. highway network by drawing on data from 3,750 road sensors and 700 closed-circuit television cameras.

Steve Ranger reported for Silicon.com.

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