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AAA puts annual cost of area crashes at $4.4 billion

Vehicle crashes ran up costs of almost $4.4 billion -- more than twice the cost of traffic congestion -- in the Baltimore area in a single year, according to a study by AAA.

The national study found that across the United States, the cost of crashes was triple that of congestion at almost $300 billion.

AAA looked at 2009, a year in which 245 people were killed in crashes in metropolitan Baltimore. That year the cost of congestion was $98 billion in the U.S. and $2 billion in Maryland, according to AAA. The study found that the cost of crashes exceeded that of congestion in each of the 99 metropolitan areas in the study -- whether large or small.

The report put the cost of fatal crashes in the region at $1.5 billion and that of the much more numerous injury crashes at $2.9 billion. It based those estimates on the Federal Highway Administration's formula for calculating costs including emergency and medical care, lost earnings and household productivity, property damage, lost quality of life and other factors.

AAA estimated that the crash losses amounted to $1,627 for each person in the Baltimore region, compared with $810 for congestion.

Various national studies attempt to put a monetary cost on traffic congestion in different areas of the country. The AAA study is unusual in seeking to estimate both crash and congestion costs and to compare the two.

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