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CTA Accidents and Safety Statistics

Casey Woodruff

public transportationHow common are accidents on vehicles run by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)? Should we be concerned about the risk of a serious or fatal CTA accident when we elect to use public transportation? Public transportation accidents and injuries probably happen much more often than most of us would like to believe. From train and bus collisions to crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians, news of CTA accidents is relatively common. But how often do they happen? And how can we prevent them?

Public Transportation Accidents in Chicago

Accidents on CTA public transportation can happen at any moment. Collisions involving elevated trains can be particularly devastating. For instance, according to a recent report from ABC 7 Chicago, a 42-year-old man was fatally wounded after being struck by a CTA Red Line train earlier this month. The man was pronounced dead at the scene when emergency medical responders arrived, and investigators noted that he had been pinned underneath the train.

But crashes involving elevated trains should not be the only time we worry about public transportation accidents and injuries. CTA bus collisions also occur more frequently than Chicagoans think.  You can be at risk of injuries from a CTA bus accident while walking down the street, while riding the bus, when you are on your bicycle, or while driving another vehicle. While collisions involving elevated trains typically do not pose serious risks to other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians on the road, CTA bus accidents can result in severe and even fatal injuries.

For instance, an article in the Chicago Tribune noted that seven people required treatment in an emergency department last month after they were involved in a CTA bus accident. The collision happened after the bus struck a passenger SUV on a weekday evening. According to a member of the Oak Park Fire Department who responded to the scene of the crash, “the bus T-boned the SUV.”

CTA Accident Facts and Figures

We can look at anecdotal evidence, such as the crashes discussed above, to conclude that Chicago-area residents can be at risk of injuries on various forms of public transportation. But how often do these accidents actually happen? According to the Chicago Transit Authority website, the CTA “operates the nation’s second largest public transportation system.” Every weekday, on average, 1.7 million Chicagoans ride on a form of public transportation in the city. Those people ride buses (of which the CTA has nearly 1,900 in operation) and rail cars (of which the CTA has more than 1,300 in operation). Every day, CTA buses make around 19,000 trips, while the CTA elevated trains make around 2,250 daily trips.

Given the scale of the CTA public transportation system, how dire are the accident statistics? The CTA offers its most recent set of safety statistics from 2009, which show the following:

  • Per month on average, 0.43 safety-related incidents per 100,000 miles occurred on CTA buses.
  • On average each month, 0.04 safety-related incidents per 100,000 miles happened on CTA rail transportation.
  • The number of bus accidents tends to increase during the winter months, suggesting that inclement weather may play a factor in road collisions.

In short, more injuries happen in CTA bus accidents than on rail accidents. Yet Chicago residents who rely on public transportation should be aware of safety concerns. And when an accident does happen, it is important to contact an experienced Chicago public transportation lawyer about your case. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans to learn more about how we can assist you.

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