Google has agreed to include information from the US Department of Transportation's vast database to pinpoint every rail crossing in the country in Google Maps. Google will also add audio and visual alerts to the app for when drivers use the turn-by-turn navigation feature. There are about 130,000 public and 85,000 private grade, or level, crossings across the country.
There are about 130,000 public and 85,000 private grade, or level, crossings across the country.
The number of accidents at crossings had declined more than 80 per cent, to about 2,000 a year in recent years from about 12,000 a year in the 1970s.
But last year, the number rose by 9 per cent.
This upswing has prompted the railroad agency to seek new ways to stem the longstanding hazard through technology.
Last year, 270 people died in highway-rail collisions, up from 232 the previous year, and 843 people were injured, according to federal safety statistics.
Grade-crossing accidents are the second-highest cause of rail fatalities after trespassing accidents, which killed 533 people last year.
Drivers are increasingly reliant on their smartphones for directions, and major tech firms - including Google, Apple and Facebook - have developed location-based services that make the most of their capabilities.
Google has been a pioneer in mapping, and its mobile app is one of the most popular maps for Android phones and iPhones.
The partnership with Google is likely to precede other announcements.