Google Maps will soon warn you when approaching railroad crossings


google maps lane guidance

Google and the Federal Railroad Administration today announced a partnership that would help Google get information about all public and private railroad crossings in the United States. What’s the purpose for that? Safer and more accurate navigation, of course.

Having access to the entire database of railroad locations allows Google to build safety features into Google Maps that will warn you — both with visual and audible cues — when coming up to a railroad crossing. This should help people drive more cautiously at these points and cut down on railway accidents which were apparently the cause of more than 280 deaths and over 800 injuries last year.

Unfortunately there’s no timeline for the feature’s arrival, but Google should work fast enough to get the functionality into Google Maps before year’s end. In the meantime, the FRA has its own app you can use to find railroad crossings in your area to make sure you know where they are on your routes.

[via New York Times]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Honestly anyone that is hit by a train likely deserves it and the roads are safer without them. They are very large, loud, well marked and do not move very quickly..

    1. So 70-80MPH isn’t quick? Hmm…

      1. Considering the size and markings, no, no it is not. If someone was paying even a fraction of the attention they should be while in control of a deadly object ( their vehicle ) then they would be able to avoid the incident.

        1. Man, you really aren’t all that bright, are you? Size & markings? 70MPH is fast for a 2-mile long train which won’t be able to stop for at least another mile. The problem is, folks ARE aware of the situation and they still make a stupid decision. Happens FAR too often.

          The reason why too many folks are involved in crossing accidents is because they underestimate the rate of speed of the train. The first stupid thought that goes through their mind is “hmm, I can beat it.” Then they get hit because they made the retarded decision to break the law and go around the gates and/or run a stop sign.

          People who are involved in accidents involving trains by way of walking or driving show they only think about themselves and no one else. When you are getting trained to become a conductor/engineer on a railroad, one of the first things they tell you is that you should expect to hit/kill at least one person in your career.

    2. I’ve been in parts of the US & Canada where “Stop-Look-Listen” is still used. No lights, gates, bells or fancy stuff. ;-)

    3. Exactly! And it’s not like you can be a safe 100′ away minding your own business, and the train swerves and takes you out…YOU HAVE TO BE ON THE FREAKING TRACKS!

  2. Last thing I want is for google navigation to stop my music to tell me there is a railroad crossing ahead.

  3. In my home town in Indiana, the damn thing would be going off every 5 minutes.

    1. Maybe bit are railroads actually still regularly used? These days ago much stuff is transported with semi-trucks it seems that railroads and trains have become relics of a bygone era (not that I think that’s a good thing, however).

      1. There are many lines still in use for transfer of products as well as people.

    2. I live in Kenosha, Wisconsin – if it was going off every five minutes, then you’d be practically parked.

  4. Nice idea…
    As long as they add an option to turn this feature off.

  5. Does this include Metro Rail? All too often I cross a Metro Rail in downtown and don’t even realize it until after I’m crossing. I’d like to know since there’s a very short time frame for when the bell is ringing, to win the train comes on a Metro Rail. Especially since you *could* be driving on the Metro Rail depending on where you are.

  6. Why is it still not possible to download the map of a antire country with a simple click instead of selecting a few square kilometers? Google maps is great for navigation but the offline part is just terrible.

  7. I wish Waze would allow you to divert for active train crossings.

    1. Yea freight trains probably don’t run on an accurate enough schedule, but I’ve hit some slow moving ones at night that are a solid 15 minute delay, and there isn’t any button other than maybe standstill traffic to warn other people

      1. Bingo.

  8. Holy crap I could really use this feature!

  9. Please, finally bring us fully working integration for third party TTS apps. The maps voice is unnerving.

  10. I’m a delivery driver, and I drive about 50-55 hrs per week thru Illinois, Indiana, and sometimes Wisconsin. Instead of using those shitty stand alone GPS devices the other drivers use, I use Google Maps on my LG G2. This doesn’t seem very helpful to me. Now, if it can tell me when there is an actual train coming thru the crossing, blocking my route, that would be awesome! Show me an active crossing, and re route me around it!

  11. No offense to the Federal Railroad Administration, but this feature is completely unnecessary.

    They cite safety as a motivation, but I’ve been driving for almost 20 years now and I’ve never seen a railroad crossing sneak up on me, and I’ve driven all over the US. I’ve always seen them clearly marked, including drop-down barricades and flashing warning lights.

    I’ve worked in public safety (emergency services) for the better part of a decade, and I’m willing to bet the majority of the injuries/deaths at railroad crossings were people intentionally going around the barricades to try to beat the train, because they didn’t want to get held up waiting for it to pass (they can take a long time). Trains sometimes approach very fast, you don’t hear them coming until they’re almost on top of you, and visually it’s very hard to gauge their speed from looking almost directly at their angle of approach.

    Being alerted to the existence of a railroad crossing is probably not going to make any difference, except annoy Google Maps users. Based on this logic, Google might as well alert people to stoplights and stop signs, too.

  12. Good to know that Google Maps will be looking out for our safety.

  13. Can’t say I’ve ever been surprised by a railroad crossing…

  14. This feature will be a godsend to me considering I have a fear of
    hobos. Any time I near a railroad crossing I start sweating and
    breathing heavily.

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