Living in a small town crisscrossed by train tracks is a recipe frustration if you need to get anywhere in a hurry. Google knows this, and is starting to integrate railroad crossing info into Google Maps navigation. The feature isn't official yet, but it's showing up for a few users.
According to the Google Maps subreddit, the alerts are merely indications of where the train tracks are when you start navigation, not a live look at whether or not you'll get stuck at a crossing with an active train. Aggregated information on delayed traffic around railroad crossings was certainly already a part of Google's navigation system, now it's just a little more visible. Waze, the Israel-based navigation app Google acquired in 2013, has displayed this information for a while now.
As it exists now, the alerts aren't so much an immediate guide to saving time as a general indication of when you'll lose it. They might be useful if you can find alternate routes with an underpass or overpass. It's not obvious when, or if, visible railroad crossing alerts will be turned on for more Google Maps users.
Image credit: /u/SamsungGalaxyPlayer
- Google Maps subreddit