Car accidents at railroad crossings spiked nine percent last year, according to the New York Times–a huge number that the Federal Railroad Administration is trying to bring down. Today, it announced a project with Google to create alerts within Google Maps that will tell motorists when they’re closing in on a crossing.
Google says that its Maps app will soon pull information from FRA data sources to ID almost every crossing in the United States. 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 functionality is apparently coming soon, but has no official start date.
According to the FRA, accidents at crossings have been diminishing for the past 30 years—but last year, they increased by a whopping 9 percent. What’s causing the increase? Well, as the NYT points out, there’s definitely been more traffic on the tracks. 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.
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