Trains are big and fast, and if they hit your car, you might die. You would think that was sufficient motivation to be careful at railroad crossings, but there was actually a sharp 9% increase in rail crossing accidents last year. Google has agreed to work with the Federal Railroad Administration to list more than 200,000 public and private rail crossings in Google Maps to help people be more aware.
The data from the Department of Transportation will show all the crossings in maps, but you'll also get visual and audio warnings when approaching a crossing while using turn-by-turn navigation. Federal authorities are also reaching out to other providers of mapping services like Apple and Garmin to do the same.
This change won't do anything for people who are perfectly aware of where they are, but choose to slalom around the guardrails in complete disregard for their own safety. However, some drivers may simply be distracted, or might find themselves on an unfamiliar route that causes them to stare at their phone's navigation screen rather than the train crossing. So look, you should be careful around trains, but Google will try to help you with that soon.
- New York Times