In a move that might bring joy to frustrated motorists, roadworks would have to be carried out over weekends as well as on weekdays so projects are finished sooner, or be lifted until they resume.
Daily fines of Â£5,000 currently exist for roadworks that overrun, but penalties could also be handed out to those who leave temporary traffic lights in place after work has been finished, the Department for Transport said.
The proposals are designed to reduce congestion on A-roads, which are managed by local authorities, and help reduce the millions of hours drivers lose every year stuck in traffic instead of at work or enjoying their leisure time.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I want to deliver better journeys for drivers. Roadworks can be essential but that doesn’t mean they should be in place any longer than is absolutely necessary.
“That is why I am looking at proposals to reduce queues and make drivers’ lives easier. These common sense measures will be a welcome relief to those trying to get from A to B on our local roads.
“Over Christmas we were able to lift a massive number of roadworks on trunk roads, but this package of measures will benefit drivers all the year round.”
The proposals were met with open arms by motoring organisations.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Road users see red when they come across sets of temporary traffic lights that are stopping traffic but there are no workmen in sight or the work has actually finished.
“Ministers can’t stop utility companies digging up the roads but they can make firms pay the price if the work is not done swiftly and they do not tidy up after themselves.
“The road network is used relentlessly 24/7 and every one of the two million sets of road works carried out annually to repair pipes and lay cables causes disruption. Anything that can be done to keep the tailbacks to a minimum will be welcomed by Britain’s 37 million motorists.”
The Government is investing Â£15 billion to improve England’s road network and address long-standing problems.