August 10, 2019 - / TRA Newswire -

In late 2016, federal investigators probing a fatal crash between a confused truck driver and a California commuter train made a plea to Google, Apple and Microsoft: Add information on the nation’s hundreds of thousands of railroad crossings to your navigation apps.

Nearly three years later, none of them has.

In addition to railroads being ignored by tech giants on grade crossing safety,  TxDOT has a safety program underway called #EndTheStreak of highway fatalities.  However, their news release makes no reference to rail grade crossing accident prevention. The Federal Railroad Administration reports that just in the period from January through May this year there were 36 rail crossing fatalities reported in Texas.

Texas has over 10,000 miles of rail track and almost 10,000 grade crossings, the most of any state. Many of the grade crossings are not protected by gates or flashing lights. A report, Texas Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Action Plan was published in August 2011 but has not yet been fully implemented. 

The inaction by giant tech companies remains a frustration for safety advocates, at a time when hundreds of people die every year in collisions at U.S. railroad crossings, even as drivers increasingly rely on their smartphones’ GPS applications to tell them where to go. And it comes in an era when the tech industry is under fire in Washington for a litany of perceived anti-social behavior — from ruthless squelching of competitors to cavalier handling of users’ private data.

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Followup: Amtrak's police department asked Google last month to add grade crossing alerts to its maps, but it so far hasn't received a reply.