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Google Maps will soon warn drivers when they approach rail crossings

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Federal transportation officials can't quite explain why the number of US rail crossing accidents jumped by 9 percent last year, but they've recruited a powerful ally to keep that figure from climbing any higher: Google. According to The New York Times, today the Federal Railroad Administration plans to announce a new partnership with Google that will ensure drivers are alerted whenever they come up on a rail crossing. Google is using data from the Department of Transportation to identify every rail crossing in the United States and mark those location in Maps.

Maps will now be able to provide audio and visual cues when you're in navigation mode and approach any crossing where a collision might be possible; 270 people died in such accidents last year. Officials believe these tragedies are often due to driver inattention, so a simple notification from Google's popular maps app could prove very helpful. The Federal Railroad Administration has also reached out to Apple, Garmin, MapQuest, and TomTom in hopes that they'll also agree to alert drivers about grade crossings.