PA

"Rubbernecking" could be a thing of the past thanks to new technology purchased by the Department of Transport (DfT).

More than 3,000 sets of screens to "hide" accidents from passing motorists will be made available to the Highways Agency from 2013.

The 105 sets have a total cost of £2.3m – each set costs £22,000 and are made up of 30 screens – but it is hoped they will help deter motorists from "rubbernecking" – the bad habit of slowing down and looking at accidents.

It's thought detering "rubbernecking" will help to not only prevent further accidents, but improve clear-up times by "up to several hundred thousand pounds per incident", says the DfT.

The screens are just one new measure introduced by the DfT as part of its CLEAR – Collision, Lead, Evaluate, Act and Reopen – programme introduced last year.

Along with 38 DfT/police-funded 3D laser scanners which allow police officers to quickly capture evidence at the scene of an accident, and a new hands-free smart phone app which notifies drivers of incidents, the government is confident these measures will help reduce the estimated £750m cost to the economy that incidents cause on the strategic road network in England annually.

Road minister Stephen Hammond said: "There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a traffic jam for hours on end. There is also the shocking cost of those lost hours for our economy.

"That is why we are improving the clear-up of incidents so we can get our motorways and major roads re-opened as quickly as possible.

"We are now witnessing even greater than expected time savings as a result of the roll out of laser scanning programme. This and other elements of the initiative, such as the use of incident screens, will help to keep traffic moving and save the economy tens of millions of pounds a year."

Assistant chief constable Sean White, lead on collision investigations for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), added: "The time saved by using this technology is more economically friendly and reduces disruption on the roads, while allowing for thorough investigations to take place."