A scanner senses if a phone is in use in a car — and a symbol of a mobile with a line through it then flashes up on a sign as drivers pass.
A trial of the £6,000 equipment started in Norwich yesterday and will move to other Norfolk locations during the next month.
It will not record plates or issue fines but data will be shared with police. It is also unable to tell whether a driver or passenger is using a handset.
But officials hope the kit will help remind people of the dangers of using phones while driving.
Norfolk County Council’s Road Safety team has developed the technology in partnership with vehicle sign technology firm Westcotec.
Westcotec’s Chris Spinks said he hoped it could provide police with an idea of where illegal use is most common. He said: “The aim of the technology is to remind drivers of the law and to get off their phones.”
Jonathan Chapman, inspector of the Norfolk Roads Policing Unit, added: “We will be using the information to help us target drivers in the future but the message is simple — leave your phone alone whilst you’re behind the wheel.”
Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s communities committee, said: “Using a mobile phone whilst driving is an enormous distraction and apart from being illegal puts the lives of the driver, passengers and pedestrians at risk.”
Those caught using mobile phones at the wheel face a £200 fine and six points on their licence following the introduction of tougher laws last year.
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