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article imageNYC council asks Google to discourage left turns to save lives

By James Walker     Jul 12, 2015 in Technology
New York City - New York City has reportedly asked Google to eliminate left turns from its navigation directions on Google Maps where possible. It is thought that this could save many lives over the course of the year as left turns are notoriously dangerous in NYC.
Mashable reports how members of the city council wrote to Google on July 1, according to Citylab. The letter was penned by deputy leader of policy Brad Lander and the chair of the council transportation committee, Ydanis Rodriguez.
The aim is for Google Maps to only display a left-turn direction where absolutely necessary. Recent studies have found that drivers turning left aren't even looking for pedestrians 9% of the time. A WNYC report found that 17 pedestrians and three cyclists were killed in New York by vehicles turning left last year. 25% of all crashes involving pedestrians involve traffic making a left turn.
It is thought that getting Google's assistance could help solve the issue. By partnering with a leading navigation provider, the council can begin to get the message across. It follows the recent announcement that Google will begin to show every US railroad crossing on its mapping data, after pairing with the Federal Railroad Administration.
Rodriguez told Citylab: "The first cause of death for New York City children under 13 is not gangs, it’s not poverty, not violence. It’s being hit by cars and trucks. This is the time for the city to reach out to the private sector, so they can help us to provide information to drivers about where you should avoid making left turns."
Lander and Rodriguez also have another idea to use software to make city streets safer. They have proposed the addition of a "stay on truck routes" option to prevent truckers accidentally straying from the faster roads into city centres and urban regions. 35% of crashes involving trucks occurred away from recognised truck routes, according to a 2007 survey referenced in the council's letter.
The council has apparently not yet heard back from Google. They hope that because Google "is one of those good private entities" that it will consider their message and implement the requested navigation options in the future.
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