Apple to Add Grade Crossings to Maps After Federal Recommendation

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.


    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.

    Article Link: Apple to Add Grade Crossings to Maps After Federal Recommendation
  2. TonyC28 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2009
    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.
  3. Dr Kevorkian94 macrumors 68020

    Jun 9, 2009
    SI, NY
    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...
  4. pat500000 macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2015
    This is one of those cases of monopoly game: "go to xxxxx railroad" from chance card.
  5. yPree macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2016
    Re-routing, re-routing, re-routing.. only to get the same exact directions - Apple Maps

    I use Waze now.
  6. Kajje macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2012
    Stop impersonating my wife.
  7. NickD73 macrumors regular


    Jan 21, 2013
    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.
  8. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    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.
  9. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    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:
    --- Post Merged, Dec 19, 2016 ---
    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...
  10. coolbreeze macrumors 68000


    Jan 20, 2003
  11. gigapocket1 macrumors 65816

    Mar 15, 2009
  12. chr1s60 macrumors 68000


    Jul 24, 2007
    What makes it unusable?
  13. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    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 :)
  14. eebrown macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2014
    This I agree with, if they would add this as well as show the road speed limit I would use Apple maps exclusively.
  15. mw360 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2010
    I think you could have it the wrong way round. The GPS directions are possibly what led him onto the tracks. It sounds like classic satnav blindness to me - ignoring reality and just doing what the satnav says (or what you think it says). He was approaching an intersection, no doubt getting instructions to make a turn, but unaware there was a grade crossing just before the intersection, which in the dark could have looked like a turn.

    If the Google app had said 'cross the railroad tracks then turn right/left,' instead of presumably 'take the next right/left' then it might have made all the difference.

    Right or wrong, switching off rational thought and deferring to electronics happens a million times day, so improving map data is probably a good short term fix while we try to find better human brains.
  16. chr1s60 macrumors 68000


    Jul 24, 2007
    Nice example. I have used both and haven't had issues with either service. I just hate when people say they can't or won't use something but give no reasoning behind it.
  17. Max Portakabin Suspended

    Sep 25, 2014
    Whatever can help avoid these situations is always progress. There may be any number of additional factors in the cited case but that doesn't preclude eliminating one of them for the future if it is possible to do so.

    Well done Apple, Google et al for their co-operation.

    RIP to the deceased engineer.
  18. dugbug macrumors 65816


    Aug 23, 2008
    Somewhere in Florida
    Waze did that to me in jersey.
  19. Ciclismo macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2010
    Why is it a map services providers job to ensure that drivers don't have accidents, when they could have been prevented by looking at where you are going out of the damned window?
  20. 2010mini macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    Good addition. But as someone who has driven trucks.... what the hell was that driver doing using a consumer grade gps?? All truckers I know use truck gps.
  21. TonyC28 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2009
    It just seems like a lot went wrong here and a gps program telling him about the crossing is pretty far down the list. I'm not saying it's not a good idea to have it added to maps, this case just doesn't seem like a good example for why. From what I've read it sounds like even if the app had told him about the crossing the result would still have been the same.
  22. nburwell macrumors 601


    May 6, 2008
    According to the article, he was driving a Ford pickup with a trailer hitched on the back. He was also sleep deprived and used his wife's smartphone as GPS (Google Maps).

    Still though, neither of those are excuses for what happened.
  23. kdarling, Dec 20, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016

    kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Now what would potentially have been useful...

    Is if his GPS app had been automatically sending his vehicle's position to a central traffic database... like Waze... and that database was realtime echoing any vehicles near a crossing to a central train engineer's display and alarm system.

    As in... ding ding ding! There's a vehicle on the tracks ahead around the curve or in the dark!

    We have all the technology to do such things; we just haven't done them yet.
  24. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    Interesting. Didn't realize that there was a service specifically for trucks (and presumably other types of commercial transportation). Can you elaborate on the differences? Enquiring minds want to know! :)
    --- Post Merged, Dec 20, 2016 ---
    What you are describing is a combination of upcoming technologies referred to a "Vehicle-to-Vehicle" and "Vehicle-to-Infrastructure".


    There is a lot of work necessary to making these both functional AND safe... but we'll get there.
  25. liberte1776 macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2014
    This is stupid, maps have nothing to do with it, the issue is the driver not opening their eyes! Fix the grade crossings, that is the fix, not maps. *rolls eyes*

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