As shared by a Redditor on the /r/GoogleMaps subreddit, Google appears to be adding railroad crossing alerts. The notification, which appears near railroad crossings, warns drivers of possible delays, but also serves as a warning to drivers of a possible safety hazard.
The same feature was added to Google’s sister traffic and navigation app Waze in 2020, which relies on Waze’s community of map editors to add alerts. A few Redditors pointed out that Waze has served as a beta research and development app for Google Maps, as Google Maps has added other Waze features to its platform. Google first indicated adding this feature in 2015.
For years, safety agencies and railroad authorities have worked to integrate railroad alerts into GPS systems and mapping apps. Safety agencies have argued that drivers can get confused about where and when to stop near railroad crossings.
In 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that technology and delivery apps add the exact locations of more than 200,000 grade crossings into digital maps. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) also lobbied technology companies to add alerts for grade crossings, contacting technology companies to add the information into their mapping apps. Until Google’s integration of the data, major technology companies have ignored this request.
They have pushed these alerts as a way of reminding drivers of these dangers, as the latest FRA data shows that 2,229 collisions occurred in 2019 at public and private crossings, accounting for 297 deaths.