WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Collisions between highway vehicles and trains have been the greatest source of injuries and fatalities in the railroad industry, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) .
Nationwide, about 270 deaths occur a year at public and private grade crossings. And now, sadly, this situation has occurred in Valhalla.
A grade crossing is a location where a public highway, road, street, or private roadway, including associated sidewalks, and pathways, crosses railroad tracks at grade - the same level as the street.
Combined, highway-rail crossing and trespasser deaths account for 95 percent of all rail-related deaths. <ost of these deaths are avoidable, according to the FRA website.
It's all about using common sense and caution, explained Stephen Walling, co-owner of Golden Crown Driving School with locations in White Plains, Mount Kisco and Yorktown.
"The most important rule is to stop – fully stop -- even if you have a green light, stop, look and and listen," he said, emphasizing the "listen" in capital letters. This includes pedestrians. "If you go out at night, wear lighter colors and always be very cautious. You can't take anything for granted."
As for what to do when your call stalls? "Get out of your car quickly and call the police for help. "Your car is your car but what can you do," he said. "It's not worth your life."
One other tip from Richard Bonfiglio of Richard’s Driving School in Yonkers: "If you're in a standard car, don’t change gears in case the car gets stuck in gears. It's really all about common sense."
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