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The link between car crashes and traffic snarls in Ohio, elsewhere

The number of car accidents rises as traffic congestion increases and, following the souring 2008 economy and its lingering aftereffects that have kept more people home in recent years, motorists are once again venturing out in higher numbers on the road. That assessment comes from Bevi Powell, an East Central spokesperson for the AAA auto group.

The likely effect of that, given the nexus between congestion and crashes, is crystal clear: Many more accidents.

The Cleveland area rose from 38th to 31st in the congestion rankings nationally during 2009, the most recent year in which AAA focused on the matter. In its study, the organization compared the financial implications of car accidents in 99 urban areas, computing findings for both those local environments and extrapolating the results to show national averages.

The national numbers notably include the following. A fatal car crash, for example, generally costs the nation about $6 million. Collectively, fatal car accidents cost the country close to $300 billion in a given year. A car accident with no fatalities costs about $126,000 per incident.

Several factors are considered when figuring the cost of a fatal accident. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in addition to administrative and legal costs, emergency and clean-up services and travel delay expenses, a number of other factors also contribute to an accident cost. They include the cost of gas motorists expend while idling in traffic at the accident site; vocational rehabilitation; lost time at work; lost earnings; medical costs; and property damage.

According to AAA, the average cost of a crash causing serious injuries or death, calculated on a per-person basis, varies highly in different areas. The national average is estimated at slightly more than $1,500 per person.

Source: USA Today, "AAA: Fatal motor vehicle crash costs $6 million" Nov. 2, 2011

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