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Transportation more costly than food for most families

Monday - 3/26/2012, 12:13pm  ET

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This is going to add up. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The average American family spends more on transportation than food, according to a new report from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Those transportation costs, more than $7,600 a year, come from a wide array of factors such as bumpy roads and heavy congestion.

Bad road conditions can cost average drivers more than $400 a year in vehicle maintenance if they regularly visit big cities, the report states. Drivers tell WTOP they regularly shell out more than $400 for tires and front end alignments and adjustments because of bumpy roads and potholes.

A top 20 list of cities with the highest vehicle maintenance expenses includes Baltimore at No. 14, averaging $603 a year. The most expensive city is San Jose, Calif. at $756.

The Treasury Department analysis prepared with the Council of Economic Advisers also says Americans waste 1.9 billion gallons of gas a year sitting in traffic on congested roads.

All that sitting instead of moving ends up costing America's drivers more than $100 billion in wasted fuel and lost time, according to the report.

The President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors tells USA Today the report shows how important it is for leaders in Washington to stop what he calls partisan bickering, and do something about the nation's infrastructure.

The report comes as Congress debates transportation and infrastructure bills that would give states money to spend on highway and public transit projects.

The new research also shows Americans could save $200 a month in lower costs if they were were able to live in "location efficient" housing.

To see the full federal report, follow this link.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)