Google Maps has been a cornerstone of Google’s Android offering since they debuted free, turn-by-turn navigation with the Motorola Droid years ago. It’s become much more than that, and it was always designed to be something multi-platform, and had been available on the web for some time before that. It’s available on iPhones, all Android devices and on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, which is why it’s encouraging to see Google adding this next new feature. Last year, 270 people died in the United States as a result of railroad crossing accidents. This was an increase from the previous year’s 232 recorded number, and some 843 people were injured in accidents last year.
As a result, the Federal Railroad Administration has agreed to work with Google to list all grade crossings throughout the US in Google Maps. The search giant will use information and data from the United States Department of Transportation’s database to list these crossings all over the US, as well as add visual and audio warnings whenever someone comes close to one of these crossings. This isn’t likely to solve the problem overnight, but considering that many of us use Google Maps to scope out a route, tell us which turn to take and when, it’s good to see this feature finally being added. This partnership with Google is part of a new push by the FRA to curb railroad crossing accidents. With Android Auto hitting many 2016 models, this will be a great addition to an already great system.
It won’t be the only partnership however, as the New York Times is reporting that the FRA have also reached out to Apple, MapQuest, TomTom and Garmin. Raising awareness about anything like this is a great move, and while Android users like ourselves will be happy to this feature head to our smartphones and tablets, it’s generally a good move that all map apps and services will get this vital information sooner, rather than later. It does make you wonder why these crossing weren’t already marked in these apps, but raising awareness through partnerships like these should right this wrong.