Waze will now notify you if you’re approaching a railroad crossing. The Google-owned platform has updated its Android and iOS applications to add railroad crossing alerts worldwide, making it the first sat nav app with the feature. While it may sound like a minor update, it’s one that could save lives: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) asked tech companies to add the feature to their map apps after a truck driver caused a deadly derailment while following Google Maps back in 2015.
Apple, Google and Microsoft had yet to comply with the request, made way back in 2016, as of mid-2019. Since Google owns Waze, though, the feature could make its way to Google Maps in the future. In its announcement, the tech giant said Waze’s volunteer map editors verified the railroad crossing data provided by organizations and rail network operators that advocate for its addition to navigation apps.
The groups’ — including MTA Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak, the Railway Association of Canada and the Secretary of Communications and Transportation of Mexico — contributions provided the information Waze needed to launch the feature in the US, Canada, Mexico and France. Waze had to rely on its local map editors, though, to be able to incorporate railroad crossings in the UK, Italy, Israel, Brazil, Colombia, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, New Zealand, Netherlands and Ireland.
Going forward, a banner will automatically pop up on Waze if you’re approaching a crossing, which is marked with a familiar “X” sign on the map. The banner will show how far the crossing is and warns you to approach with caution. Dani Simons, Waze’s head of Public Sector Partnerships, said “This feature exemplifies Waze’s commitment to building for its Driving app, being the first to implement features and emphasizes our focus on safety.”