Facepalm: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 2016 asked Apple, Google, Microsoft and other digital map and GPS makers to add railroad crossings to their respective navigation platforms. The agency’s goal was to help reduce the number of people that die each year in collisions at railroad crossings. Unfortunately, the plea has fallen on deaf ears as three years later, none of the major players have taken action.
Sarah Feinberg, who led the Federal Railroad Administration when a fatal crash took place in Oxnard, California, in 2015, said the companies’ failure to act is “tantamount to gross negligence.”
Apple and Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment from Politico. Google said it remains “aware” of the recommendation and will continue to look for ways to bring drivers useful features that help them navigate safely. In 2017, however, the search giant told the NTSB that it faces a “balancing act” in which they have to add new features without “overcrowding” their mapping app which could lead to a sub-optimal user experience.
GPS maker Garmin said it added railroad crossing data into its products in 2016. TomTom also said its maps have designated railroad crossings marked.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 270 fatalities related to train collisions in 2017 based on preliminary statistics. That figure has trended downward significantly since 1981 when there were 728 fatalities on record.
Masthead credit: railroad crossing sign by gabriel12