Soon, Your Phone Could Warn You If You're Approaching Railroad Tracks

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Train Crossing
Train Crossing
Walter/Flickr CC by 2.0

Last year in the United States, 270 people died in collisions between cars and trains. Today, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a measure that they hope will lower that number of fatalities in the future. The only catch? They need Google's help to make it happen.

Many people use Google Maps and other navigational systems to get around, relying on smartphones and other devices to not only get them safely from point A to point B, but to do it on time and show construction, traffic status, and even schedules for public transit options. It seems like one of the only things that it doesn't have are clearly labelled points where a road meets a railway.

The FRA already had an app that showed people the locations of every one of the 250,000 railroad crossings in the country, but it wasn't connected to navigational apps or devices, and not many people used it. So, as of today, the FRA is asking Google and other companies to take that data and put it into their maps, making it so that when a driver approaches a crossing, their directions will alert them to their proximity to the train tracks.

The hope is that the additional notification will keep drivers more aware at crossings that aren't well marked.

"For drivers and passengers who are driving an unfamiliar route, traveling at night, or who lose situational awareness at any given moment, receiving an additional alert about an upcoming crossing could save lives." Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the FRA, wrote in a blog post.