Tailbacks that stretched for up to 11 miles were caused on the M6 when an 18-ton gearbox fell from a lorry.
Motorists were caught up in the delays, which stretched back to five junctions, for three hours.
The accident happened on the M6 southbound between junctions 6, for Aston, and 5 for Castle Bromwich yesterday.
The huge metallic gearbox slipped from the vehicle, causing damage to the cab of the HGV and extensive damage to the carriageway at around 9.15am.
The police and Highways Agency had to close two lanes, and those remained closed until around 4.15pm – seven hours after the original incident.
Highways Agency spokeswoman Pragati Baddhan said: “We had to wait for a crane to lift the load, which had to come through the tailbacks, and also had to carry out emergency work around the metal component while it was on the road.
“There was extensive damage and we temporarily repaired the carriageway to reopen the two lanes, and carried out repair work overnight.
“The tailbacks were up to junction 11 at their worst, with around three-hour delays.”
She said the problems were compounded with three other separate incidents occurred within the traffic, when one lorry caught fire, and two others broke down.
West Midlands Fire Service were called to the lorry fire, near a slip road between junctions 7, for Great Barr, and 6 southbound at 11.03am. A spokesman said: “A caller reported seeing flames coming from an articulated lorry.
“We sent three fire engines, from Aston, Handsworth and Perry Barr.
“It was a small fire in the trailer, in a motor that served a refrigerator unit.”
Officer Steven Rounds from the Central Motorway Police Group was at the scene and sending messages from his @RoundsSteve Twitter account.
He wrote: “Drivers taking photos on their phones M6 J6 to J5 – you are being monitored and follow up action will take place.
“A few bad drivers are bringing the UK haulage industry into disrepute using phones and cameras whilst driving past.”