A LASER scanner aimed at ­speeding up crash investigations could mean shorter delays for motorists caught in incidents such as the five-hour ­disruption after Monday’s A14 ­collision.

Cambridgeshire police have been awarded £76,600 from the Department for Transport for a 3D scanner, which could reduce road closures by 40 minutes.

The device uses infra-red beams to create a digital image of a crash site. Investigators can use it to measure distances between vehicles and to examine evidence.

A police spokesman said the force hopes to have the scanner in use by April. On Monday, the westbound A14 was closed for more than five hours following a crash at the Godmanchester junction at 9.45am.

Transport Minister Mike Penning said: "There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a traffic jam for hours on end.

"But even worse is the shocking £1billion cost of those lost hours for our economy."

A Highways Agency trial in 2010, based on data from the Metropolitan Police and Humberside Constabulary, found that, on average, the scanner saved 39 minutes per incident. The £76,600 handout is part of a £2.7million deal involving 22 other police forces.

Thames Valley and Hampshire police have been awarded nearly £400,000 for five scanners, although most other forces have been granted cash for just one or two.

The size of the grants were based on the number of collision investigations undertaken between April 2008 and March 2011, whether the roads were on the Olympic route network, and the level of contribution from applicants.