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CTA transit choices result in fewer Chicago teen driver deaths?

The Chicago Tribune on Sunday summarized its yearlong Teens at the Wheel coverage with a special section on Sunday. It was an excellent, though sad, series that no doubt will get Pulitzer consideration.

As I read it, looked at the map of accidents and analyzed the numbers of all the teen victims, I thought to myself: Thank God for the CTA.

You see, only 12 of 59 teen victims of traffic accidents were Chicago residents, and just 9 of 47 accidents were in Chicago. And I'm thinking that the CTA had something to do with that.

You see, Chicago residents have much greater mass transit choices than do suburbanites. My own 16-year-old daughter is not really interested in getting a driver's license yet (thank God) because we live close to the Red Line and she can use public transit to go just about anywhere she wants to go.

Admittedly, I didn't do a full analysis of the numbers. For instance, I don't know what percent of teens live in the suburbs vs. the city. And I realize there's plenty more square footage of land/roads in the suburbs vs. the city.

But I still can't help but think if there were more mass transit choices in the suburbs that there would be fewer teens dying in traffic accidents.

Again, I thank God for the CTA and the fact that my daughter can use it -- instead of a car -- to see her friends and get to school.


You are so right!! I grew up in Chicago, a looong time ago. Car accidents were rare enough that I still remember those who died or were seriously injured. Now I live in NW Indiana, and car accidents happen constantly! I think you are on to something! When 16 yr old teens are given a car to drive, vs a bus to ride, LOOK OUT!

You thank *God*? Really? I must have missed that part of the Bible where He said, "Let there be mass transit." Or is this in the Bhagavad Gita?

Does this mean, by the way, that Frank Kruesi is the CTA's equivalent of the pope? That's a scary thought!

Did you grow up in the City or the Suburbs? I grew up in the suburbs, and frankly if you took a bus anywhere, you were considered a "big fat nobody" If you took the bus you were a LOSER. Cool people had cars. I have a feeling that the same theory of "coolness" for Suburban teens holds true today. Suburban teens wouldn't want to be caught dead on a PACE bus.

The other factor is that speeds in the city are rarely as high as they are in the burbs or rural areas. I grew up in Chicago but learned to drive in the exurbs (west of Elgin) and you basically left the driveway going 60 mph and never slowed down until you got to your destination.

Accidents over 30 mph get exponentially more fatal as speeds increase.

Pattie, I've taken Pace, and I'd have to agree with the suburbie kids- as hard as the CTA can suck at times, I've never seen CTA bus routes with such huge gaps between buses. When I was taking the 318, I'd have to keep to a tight schedule, because there was a 45 minute wait in between buses, and service ended ridiculously early in the evening. The 318 took me to the Green Line, which took me to the 6 bus (or vice versa), and I never waited more than a few minutes for either of those. If Pace added some light rail, and increased the frequency of the buses, maybe the "loser" status would start to fade.

Kevin B. O'Reilly -

Um...wow. Relax. Let the man thank his higher power for something he believes is a blessing.

Yes. I'm sure that the risk of dying or being critically hurt while driving/riding in a car is less in a big city, like Chicago, than it is in the 'burbs or a rural area. And yes, that has a great deal to do with alternative transportation choices being available. (Not just CTA. Walking is another big one.)

But I wouldn't get too excited because there are plenty of other risks for city kids that kids in the 'burbs or rural areas don't face.

It's not a matter of the city being better. It's a matter of the city being different.

Geoff, I did come off as a bit of a jerk, didn't I? I apologize for that.

The language just reminded me of the hoary cliche of the athlete's thanking God for helping him kick a winning field goal. What did God have to do with it?

I definately agree. My kids were happy to skip learning to drive till they were 18 if I would pay their transit fees. And a monthly pass is cheaper than a month's insurance on a teenager!

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