New Jersey Transit Partners on Rail Crossing Alert Tech

Through a partnership with Waze, NJ Transit is working to alert drivers as they approach railroad crossings. Since 1975, 187 people have been killed at railroad crossings in the state, according to federal data.

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(TNS) — New Jersey drivers may want to keep an eye — or maybe rather an ear — on their phones while driving around the state.

That’s because NJ Transit is working with the traffic application Waze to alert drivers when they are approaching railroad crossings, according to an announcement from the agency. Anyone using the app will receive a notification as they approach an NJ Transit rail crossing and a reminder to proceed with caution.

Although New Jersey’s more than 1,400 crossings are marked — many with flashing lights and automatic gates — drivers and pedestrians still face a threat from freight and passenger trains. Since 1975, 187 people have been killed at railroad crossings in the state, according to federal data.

“This new partnership with Waze will greatly enhance our efforts to keep railroad crossings safe,” said Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit’s president and CEO, in a statement. “NJ Transit is committed to leveraging technology to improve safety.”

Waze, an app popular for road trips because of its ability to alert drivers to traffic and the presence of police, has been adding rail crossings to its maps following recommendations from the U.S. Senate and federal agencies. NJ Transit joins other railroads, including Amtrak and the Long Island Railroad, in working with Waze to protect drivers.

“Waze’s railroad crossing feature exemplifies our commitment to implementing features that keep drivers safe on the road,” said Andrew Stober, Waze’s head of public partnerships and carpool, in the announcement. “We are thrilled to have partnered with NJ Transit to ensure over 300 railroad crossings across the state are highlighted on the Waze map, supporting drivers by making them aware to be alert when approaching train tracks.”

This effort is NJ Transit’s latest to keep drivers and pedestrians off railroad tracks and away from trains. In December, the agency launched a partnership with Rutgers University to study how to use technology to prevent pedestrians from getting hit at crossings.

People getting killed at railroad crossings remains a stubborn problem in the U.S., with fatalities up nearly 25% between 2015 and 2019, federal data shows. A recent NJ Advance Media investigation found alarming gaps in how rail crossings are regulated, putting drivers in danger all over the country.

In the announcement of its partnership with Waze, NJ Transit blamed crossing collisions on “confused or distracted drivers,” though our investigation documented insufficient protective equipment, malfunctioning safety devices and unreliable accident reports as contributing to the problem.

Drivers also are not always aware of how dangerous rail crossings can be or how to navigate them, particularly in traffic. Notifications from Waze figure to help address both issues, though this partnership covers only 300 of the state’s 1,400 crossings.

“As our society becomes more and more dependent on technology, partnerships like the one with Waze can bring enhanced safety awareness of NJ Transit operations directly to motorists and is an integral addition to compound upon the many other mitigation strategies we already have in place to improve safety for motorists and NJ Transit customers alike,” said Brian Lapp, the agency’s chief safety officer.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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