The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has agreed to team up with Google to make rail crossings safer for drivers and passengers.
As part of the collaboration, Google has agreed to integrate FRA’s geographic information system (GIS) data to pinpoint every rail crossing in the country into Google Maps.
Adding railroad crossing data to smartphone mapping applications will help drivers and passengers with additional cues that they are approaching a crossing.
There are currently around 250,000 public and private railroad crossings in the country, and there are more than 2,000 accidents at these intersections each year.
Google will also incorporate the app with audio and visual alerts of an upcoming rail crossing when a driver uses the turn-by-turn navigation feature.
According to reports, FRA acting administrator Sarah Feinberg has also asked four other major companies that develop map applications, Apple, MapQuest, Garmin and TomTom, to build warnings into their technology to alert drivers approaching the railroad crossings.
The new map applications will alert drivers that there is a rail crossing ahead, and so they may be more likely to remain alert and use greater caution while signal crossings.
Association of American Railroads president and CEO Edward Hamberger said: "The grade crossing collision rate has fallen nearly every year since 1980 and about 35% since 2000, but too many collisions still occur and virtually all of them are preventable.
"The FRA’s work with Google will provide a technological tool for motorists to build further safety awareness at crossings. The freight rail supports any and all efforts designed to focus people’s attentions on the inherent dangers around grade crossings.
"As FRA statistics show, freight rail safety has been improving dramatically over the last several decades and together with Operation Lifesaver (OLI) and other key stakeholders, the push for improved safety and general awareness about the dangers at railroad tracks and grade crossings will continue on a 24/7 basis."