Google app to warn drivers about railroad crossings

APphoto_Railroad Crossings-Google

Police officers stand near a Metrolink train that hit a truck in February in Oxnard. 

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Google has agreed to add audio and visual alerts in its navigation app to warn drivers about railroad crossings.

Google is partnering with the Federal Railroad Administration after deaths at railroad crossings jumped last year. The number of deaths had been steadily declining over the past decade until spiking 9% in 2014, according to the agency, which oversees the nation’s railroads.

California accounted for 33 of the 270 deaths from train-on-vehicle collisions in 2014.

The railroad agency is also in talks with other tech companies, including Apple, TomTom and MapQuest, to integrate warnings into navigation apps.


“Google was the first to say that they would go ahead and integrate the data. But we have had great conversations with other companies,” said Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. “No one has told us that they are uninterested.”

Google said it doesn’t have a timeline for when the integration of audio and visual alerts for railroad crossings will be completed. Meanwhile, the company has agreed to update its maps with 250,000 public and private crossing locations.

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