June 29, 2015

Railroads Cross to a Safer Future Thanks to Google Maps

By Nick K. 

It’s the week of the 4th of July and you’ve planned a road trip with friends to visit a favorite mountain, desert, or ocean destination to watch the fireworks. The car has a full tank of gas, the seatbelts are fastened, and the smartphones have finished uploading social media updates about the journey ahead. Google Maps is also only a click away in case you are lost. Just like that, away you go with your buddies off into the morning sunrise!

Time passes by as you encounter areas of construction and make it to the seemingly endless open road. Suddenly, traffic begins to slow and eventually comes to a halt. You look down the road and see a cloud of smoke, flashing lights, and you hear the sounds of echoing sirens. Once the smoke clears, you see what appears to be a railroad crossing with a train blocking the road and a pile of rubble and ash that used to be a car. After several hours of waiting for the scene to be cleaned up, you continue forth on your journey with a renewed vigilance for railroad crossings.

Railroad accidents are not typical occurrences in everyday life. However, when an accident does occur, the news is bound to cover it. The devastation and damage caused by trains has the potential to be fatal. In fact, The Federal Railroad Administration has reported a nine percent increase in fatalities and accidents at railroad crossings since 2013.

That being the case, The FRA has been trying to prevent these fatal accidents from happening. To help derail the nine percent increase in accidents, the FRA has teamed up with Google Maps to allow for U.S. railroad crossings to appear on Google Maps in hopes of preventing potential accidents. The FRA has provided all the railroad crossings across the US to Google Maps and other map service apps to reach as much of the population as they can.  

The FRA paired up with Google Maps in order to determine who currently uses Google Maps for traveling, and for because we rely so much on smartphones when we travel. We tend to focus solely on the information our smartphone displays when it comes to navigation, whether it be street signs, road obstructions, and now, railroad crossings.  

Venture Beat has reported the new Google Maps update has not been given an exact release date until sometime in the near future. All in all, Google Maps is adapting and plans to enhance their Maps application to ensure the roads and railroad crossings will be accident free!

Do you think that Google Maps being equipped with railroad crossings is a smart move for the FRA and Google? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below. 

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