A team of civilian traffic officers who will help to beat motorway jams has been unveiled in the West Midlands by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling.
The officers will help keep motorway traffic flowing without delays
The 50-strong Highways Agency force, in high visibility uniform, will patrol the region's motorways and aim to reduce congestion.
They will take on the police role of clearing up after minor accidents.
Motoring organisations have welcomed the move, which may cut delays and free up police time for tackling crime.
The officers will begin their patrols on the M5, M6 and M42.
But the Highways Agency hopes to roll out more than 1,200 officers across the country by the end of next year.
They will have powers to deal with diversions and help police manage traffic after accidents to minimise hold-ups and delays.
An estimated £3bn is lost each year through motorway congestion in the UK.
Mr Darling said: "This is about getting the motorway network moving.
"The idea is for them to get the road clear as quickly as possible and to get lorries or cars off the road and get traffic moving again."
He added: "The new traffic officers will improve services to motorists - making journeys more reliable and ensuring time spent in jams is kept to a minimum."
The government claims a quarter of congestion on the UK's roads every year is caused by collisions and crashes.
David York, national traffic director for the Highways Agency, said they aimed to reduce that figure by 5% once all the traffic officers were in operation.
He said: "That might not sound like much but when you consider that closing one lane of the M6 or the M1 costs the economy between £200,000 and £400,000 every hour, and a typical incident might take five-and-a-half hours to clear, then that is a considerable figure.
"I would say this is the biggest change in the motorway network since it was launched 50 years ago."
The Highways Agency teams will also be responsible for updating information on overhead gantries on the motorways, Mr York added.
Chief Constable Stephen Green, chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers Roads Policing Operational Forum, said: "The release of police staff will enable chief police officers to refocus the efforts of their staff on patrolling, investigating incidents and reducing crime on the motorway network."
A spokesman for the Automobile Association said: "Road users welcome the appearance of high visibility traffic officers.
"As long as the traffic officers stick to their prime role, motorists should have everything to be pleased about."