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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Google have teamed up to improve safety at grade crossings, FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg announced yesterday.Google agreed to integrate the FRA's GIS data to pinpoint the location of 250,000 public and private crossings into its mapping services. Adding crossing data into smartphone mapping applications will provide drivers with an additional alert when they are approaching a crossing, Feinberg wrote in Fast Lane, the U.S. Department of Transportation's blog."Adding railroad crossing data to smartphone mapping applications just makes sense — it means supplying drivers and passengers with additional cues that they are approaching a crossing," she said.The agreement comes at the same time the FRA announced that 270 people died in highway-rail collisions in 2014, the first time in this decade that the number of fatalities increased over the previous year. The collisions were largely preventable, Feinberg said."We can — and should — do everything possible to end vehicular-train incidents at rail crossings," she wrote. "With Google and other tech companies' help, I'm confident that we can achieve this goal even faster."Association of American Railroads President President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger offered praise for the FRA-Google agreement. "The FRA's work with Google will provide a technological tool for motorists to build further safety awareness at crossings," he said in a press release. "The freight-rail industry supports any and all efforts designed to focus people’s attentions on the inherent dangers around grade crossings."
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