Police are trialling the use of drones at serious road crash scenes in an effort to speed up the investigation process.

That will mean less delays and traffic backlogs on busy roads including the Auckland Harbour Bridge which brings traffic to a standstill as police investigate, taking up several hours in most cases.

Just 10 days ago, the two city-bound lanes were blocked after a motorcyclist was killed in a crash on the southbound lane, causing widespread congestion. The trial is being held on Waikato roads after serious or fatal crashes.

District policing manager Inspector Freda Grace said she couldn't yet confirm exactly how much time will be saved, but said it would be "quite significant".


They've dubbed the drones Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAVs], which are installed with GPS mapping system.

The UAVs will be used alongside current police methods of investigating serious crash scenes to see if and how they are more efficient for the duration of the six month trial.

If successful, UAVs would be adopted full-time.

The UAV method had already been tested a few times to indicate that it was worth going ahead making the announcement public and going ahead with the trial.

"It's just so that we can use technology in a better way. The mapping takes a lot less time and also gives a much more holistic view of the scene and any environmental aspects that may have contributed tot he crash. The spin-off is a lot of time-saving."

Currently, if a serious crash occurred roads and highways had to be closed to allow for removal of injured occupants, recovery of damaged vehicles along with the physical mapping of crash scenes, all of which were quite time-consuming and resulted in long waits, road closures and lengthy diversions.

"By using UAVs we can obtain 360 degree bird's eye views, images and video of crash scenes creating the potential for the mapping of crash scenes to be completed far sooner than is currently possible," she said.

It was being carried out in the Waikato because the area was prone to a high road fatality rate and had busy roads, but its staff were also interested in trialling new technologies and working out ways to make their investigations more efficient, she said.


It would also have financial benefits to the taxpayer.

"The Ministry of Transport's 2014 social cost of road crashes and injuries report shows us that adding all the social cost components, the average social cost per road fatality is $3,981,700. In terms of non-fatal injury crashes the cost is estimated at $419,300 per serious injury and $22,400 per minor injury.

She was unsure whether drones would soon be fed into other areas of policing.