Google Maps to get U.S. railroad crossing data to help avert accidents

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    Google is to start alerting drivers when they approach U.S. railroad crossings to help curb a rise in accidents.

    “Grade” or “level” crossings are the points where a railway track intersects with a public or private road. Trains traverse more than 212,000 such crossings in the U.S. each day, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which led to around 270 deaths in 2014 — a 9 percent rise on the previous year.

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    Accidents are typically caused by human error, and with many railroad crossings there aren’t any barriers or lights between the road and the railway track, leaving it entirely up to the visual attentiveness of the driver to spot a road sign.

    As such, the FRA has approached Google to include data from the agency’s database to ensure every crossing in the U.S. is included on Google Maps. This will include both visual and audio alerts when a driver is using turn-by-turn navigation mode, according to a report in the New York Times.