Apple to Add Grade Crossings to Maps After Federal Recommendation

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Apple will add grade crossings to Apple Maps after a safety recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), reports The New York Times. The recommendation comes after a two year investigation into an accident that occurred after a driver got his truck stuck on railroad tracks while following directions from Google Maps.

applemaps
Grade crossings are places where the road and railway lines are at the same level.  The case the NTSB cites in its recommendation is that of Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, who misinterpreted directions from Google Maps and wound up on a poorly marked grade crossing. His truck, which was hauling a trailer, got stuck on the tracks. While Sanchez-Ramirez was able to abandon his vehicle, a train struck it and resulted in the death of an engineer and injuries to 32 others. There were more than 200 fatalities at grade crossings last year in the U.S.

Today, the NTSB issued a safety recommendation that Google and other map providers, like Apple, should add exact locations of more than 200,000 grade crossings to their mapping data. The Federal Railroad Administration has been lobbying Apple and other tech companies to add the data for the past 18 months.

Apple and several other companies, like Google, Microsoft and MapQuest, have agreed to add the data but have not disclosed when they will integrate grade crossings into its mapping apps. The NTSB's recommendations are not binding, but they can used to pressure companies and lobby Congress to take action.

Investigators believe lack of warning in Google Maps was one of several factors that contributed to the accident, including driver fatigue and a lack of more distinctive signage at the grade crossing. There have been five accidents at the crossing since 2008.

Top Rated Comments

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48 months ago
I suppose this is good for drivers for safety and other reasons. But I don't know why the case cited is being used as the example for why these companies need to add this to maps. The guy driving that truck was working for 24 hours straight, the last 17 spent driving, and was unfamiliar with the area. Seems like GPS data wouldn't have been very helpful in his case.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago

What makes it unusable?

I've been a long time google maps user and largely ignored Apple Maps but recently I've found google maps to be unreliable: a recent example is last week when it missed telling me about overnight roadworks and first led me straight into a 1 hour queue and then didn't know part of the motorway was closed at a junction and kept trying to route me back to where I couldn't get on.

I fired up Apple maps and it got me round the roadworks and home, so will give it another chance now :)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago

Apple maps is still unusable for anyone who uses google maps. One of the main reasons I'll be switching away from iPhone soon. This company is in the toilets.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-maps-navigation-transit/id585027354?mt=8
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
That's good I guess.

Side note: What we need is for Siri to tell me what lane to be in. If I go out of the city I switch to google maps. Especially in Jersey...
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago

Re-routing, re-routing, re-routing.. only to get the same exact directions

Stop impersonating my wife.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago

Grade crossings are places where the road and railway lines are at the same level. The case the NTSB cites in its recommendation is that of Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, who misinterpreted directions from Google Maps and wound up on a poorly marked grade crossing. His truck, which was hauling a trailer, got stuck on the tracks.

My first engineering job was with Tri-Met, with the Systems Safety Department. My manager told me about a lawsuit against another transit agency that was found in favor of the plaintiff - the family of the guy who died when he scaled a tall fence with warnings that more-or-less indicated the hazards of scaling the fence. The guy died when he stood on the two rail lines and took a leak on the center rail which carried the electrification - his stream of urine carried several hundred volt up the stream and he, in essence, electrocuted himself. The transit agency's failing - the signs that carried about 7 different languages didn't include the language that the guy who scaled the fence and took a leak on the in-service rail line. There's so many sad stories that I've learned about since I got into transportation engineering, and some pretty idiotic ones I've witnessed firsthand...

My point? Besides not seeing the NTSB's logic here, and RM's initial post - as I still follow the industry pretty closely, is that Mr. Sanchez-Ramirez had been working for more than 24 hours straight before the accident. He was delayed during his trip for several (about 4) hours, and he was also involved in an accident on that same trip - delaying him further. He was given written instructions, in his native language, but chose to use Google Maps - which has plenty of disclaimers about accuracy. He also admitted to suffering from fatigue and not being familiar with the area in which the accident took place. Then, he drove more than 75 feet on the rails in parallel to the rail line, after turning in the direction of the rails - he was on the tracks, not stuck in the intersection.

MR's OP is missing a few key bits here. Don't go ranking on Apple or Google about this, it takes away from the guy who should not have been driving at the time of the intersection. As for me, if you have questions, I'll direct you to my published accident investigation procedures or my former boss at Tri-Met (he's still there...). My condolences to the families who lost loved ones, and my rancor is reserved for idiots who drive when impaired. :mad:
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More idiot proofing. If you're that blind to miss 2 metal rails crossing the pavement, flashers, and gates; you shouldn't be driving. This still doesn't fix poorly designed and intricate crossing which cause a lot of the problems.

No offense, read a bit of my post. The subject entered into the rail alignment well before the train activated the signalization, turned to "follow" the rail alignment, and drove between 75-100 feet on the rail alignment before getting high-centered ("stuck") - then, he abandoned his vehicle. Then, the train approached the intersection, which the vehicle was not in as it was well away from the intersection at the point of collision...
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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