Navigation apps such as Apple Maps have become a key part in a ton of people’s commute. With that being said, such apps need to be more aware of its surroundings more than ever. The New York Times details how Google Maps played a role in a fatal accident in 2015 on railroad tracks in California in a new report.
Following directions from Google Maps on a smartphone last year, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez turned a Ford truck, hauling a trailer, where he thought the app was telling him to go. But he ended up stuck on the railroad tracks at a poorly marked California crossing.
Soon after Mr. Sanchez-Ramirez abandoned the truck, a commuter train barreled into it, killing the engineer and injuring 32 others.
Now two-years later, the National Transportation Safety Board is asking companies such as Apple and Google to implement over 200,000 grade crossings locations to their mapping data.
A grade crossing is a location where both the road and railway lines are at the same level. This may make it difficult for drivers to discern where the mapping application is telling them to turn.
In most cases, grade crossing isn’t marked with gates or blinking lights but rather with a crossing sign or a white “X” marked with “railroad crossing.” This may cause some drivers to not notice the tracks, potentially crossing at a dangerous time, or turn onto the tracks and get stuck.
At this time it’s unclear whether or not Google or Apple will implement such data, but it would be in their best interest to do so.