PHOENIX - Some Phoenix-area drivers now know what it feels like to commute while light-rail trains are moving and no police officers are around to show them what to do.
Metro light rail officials on Monday began testing how drivers respond to the trains and new traffic signals meant to prevent collisions.
"For the first time we stopped using police officers to control traffic at intersections and began using our new signal system," Metro spokeswoman Marty McNeil said. "It worked as we expected it to."
The testing is being done on a one-mile stretch east of downtown Phoenix.
McNeil said the testing will continue until the light-rail system opens to the public next year. She said the testing will be expanded in the spring to another area of Phoenix and to part of Tempe.
Drivers along the light-rail line will only be able to make left and U-turns on green arrows, and they'll notice new train-approaching signs at each intersection.
"We've taken away their choice or their guess work about whether or not they can beat the train," McNeil said. "We don't want them to try."
Train operators obey their own set of signals, but operators of Metro rail say much of the safety will fall on the shoulders of drivers.
"We need people to be aware that there's 50 tons of steel out there," McNeil said. "We've done everything we can to build safety into the system, and we need them to behave in safe ways right now."