Google Maps will alert you to upcoming railroad crossings

30 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google First Mapping Company To Add Railroad Crossing Alerts.

In an effort to prevent railroad crossing accidents, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has teamed up with Google to warn drivers when they’re approaching a crossing. LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The federal agency that oversees railroads has asked digital mapping companies to alert drivers as they approach track crossings in the hope that visual and audio cues will lead to greater awareness of potential dangers. Every railroad crossing in the country will be visible in Google Maps, and the app will issue both audio and visual notifications when the car approaches a crossing, according to a report by The New York Times and confirmed by Mashable. The government requested the action by Google and other providers of online mapping and direction-providing applications after seeing a sharp rise in crashes and fatalities at railroad crossings last year.

Google, it said, has agreed to integrate federal data, which pinpoints the location of the nation’s approximately 250,000 public and private railroad crossings, into its mapping services. “Can one of the nation’s newest, fastest-moving industries help to solve one of transportation’s oldest problems? So, when you’re using Google Maps to navigate—whether via voice or the screen—the app will let you know when you’re near a crossing and should be extra cautious. The NYT says the partnership with Google isn’t exclusive, and that the FRA also wants to work with other mapmakers, including Apple, Garmin, and others, bringing similar alerts to those services (the administration also has its own app). The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation tallied 106 crashes at crossings, up from 57 the year before. “We know that more and more drivers today use map applications on smartphones to guide them to their destinations,” Ms. Feinberg said in a letter to Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of products for Google. “While mobile device maps and applications are trusted sources for directions and guidance, many of them do not notify drivers when they are approaching a rail crossing, or do not identify the rail crossing at all.

The Crossing Locator App allows consumers to locate highway-rail grade crossings near their location using several methods and to view accident history for specific crossings. Other key features include the ability to identify railroad crossings by special characteristics, like railroad, type, or quiet zone, and what to do in case of an emergency or a safety concern about a specific crossing. She has asked four other major developers of map applications — Apple, MapQuest, Garmin and Tom Tom — to add rail crossings to the information they provide. Last year we learned that due in part to the oil boom in North Dakota, there’s been a major shortage of trains, leading to problems supplying everything from cars to produce across the country. Of course, it doesn’t help that drivers are using their phones more often while in the car, either—but, hopefully, these updated maps will make better use of all that tech we bring into our cars.

There are nearly 3,500 crossings on public roads in Pennsylvania that are shared by vehicles and trains, including 206 in Allegheny County, PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said. “The grade crossing collision rate has fallen nearly every year since 1980 and about 35 percent since 2000, but too many collisions still occur and virtually all of them are preventable,” said Edward Hamberger, its president and CEO. “The FRA’s work with Google will provide a technological tool for motorists to build further safety awareness at crossings.

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