25-year-old Cemile Valencia of Rockville, MD survived a deadly collision at a railroad crossing on Friday. Valencia was driving along Randolph Road when traffic came to a stop just as she began crossing the tracks. A MARC train approached and Valencia tried moving her car off the tracks – to no avail against the stopped traffic. The train hit the passenger side of her car causing major damage. Valencia, 7 months pregnant, suffered only minor injuries, and her unborn child is unharmed. None of the 540 train passengers were hurt.
This crossing has a reputation for being particularly deadly. While it is currently outfitted with gates, officials have noted additional safety needs at the crossing and are planning to raise traffic over the tracks to eliminate the crossing altogether. A crossing with such a noted potential for disaster should indeed be eliminated in favor of a raised road. Questions remain, however. Though the county is funding the design for a road change, they claim that the project is still years off. What sorts of changes can be made now, then? If lives are at risk, immediate action is imperative.
The technological possibilities for safety are far ahead of the current implementation – for example, train cars can be equipped with automated stopping technology which utilizes synchronization with satellites to help trains stop before collisions. While some railroad companies are moving towards safety technology such as this, why aren’t they all? While local residents wait for the county to implement the project to eliminate the crossing, railroad companies themselves should be held responsible for implementing greater safety measures. Senseless tragedies can be avoided.