Google sounds alarm to cut level-crossing crashes with Maps updates

Navigation warning aims to save lives

Google sounds alarm to cut level-crossing crashes

SMARTPHONES will warn drivers when they approach level crossings in an effort to cut the number of near-misses and serious crashes between trains and cars. Google has agreed to add details of all 215,000 level crossings in America to its Maps software, and is expected to roll out the same coverage for British roads.

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The information is aimed at drivers using the Google Maps app on their smartphone, which works as a sat nav. When a vehicle approaches a level crossing, it will warn the driver via an alarm sound and an on-screen symbol to be alert for warning lights.

The latest statistics published by the UK’s Rail Safety and Standards Board show there were 10 collisions between trains and road vehicles between April 2013 and March 2014, in which two car passengers were killed. More than 120 near-misses between trains and cars were reported in the same period.

Increasing numbers of drivers are expected to use free smartphone sat navs such as Google Maps as new vehicles begin to feature software that integrates handsets more closely with dashboard displays. Google’s Android Auto system allows motorists to access and view apps on a car’s touchscreen.