If you’ve surfed the internet recently, you may have learned that the world is flat, that Elvis and JFK are both still alive, and that U.S. astronauts never landed on the moon. What may be even harder to believe, however, is a recent report that among all fifty states, the drivers in Florida are the second-best drivers in the United States. Only tiny, tranquil Rhode Island has better drivers than Florida, according to the research conducted and posted by the insurance website QuoteWizard, which calculated accidents, DUI arrests, speeding tickets, and traffic fatalities to rank the fifty states’ drivers.

According to the QuoteWizard data, Florida drivers are the nation’s second-best primarily because of a “low” number of traffic citations. However, that low number of traffic citations may be the result of fewer police officers on the street rather than safer drivers. The study also claims that Orlando’s drivers are the state’s safest. That’s an odd conclusion, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the CDC – ranks Orlando as the most dangerous city in the nation for pedestrians. The CDC also reports that Orlando has the highest fatality rate for bicyclists of any city in the United States.

On their website, QuoteWizard says, “We sampled incident data (with more than two million data points) from the users of our website and linearly extrapolated it to Federal Highway Administration fatality data. To quantify overall driver standards for comparison, we weighted various incident counts for each state with its occurrence percentage. The final rankings are a sum of weighted means that is calculated from total accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, citations, and fatalities.” How QuoteWizard defines “incident data” and “data points” remains unexplained.

WHAT DO OTHER SURVEYS TELL US?

The QuoteWizard study directly contradicts research published in December by Bankrate.com, which determined that Florida drivers are forty-second in the nation – not second – when it comes to safe driving. How did Florida rank so high on QuoteWizard’s safe-driving list with so much evidence that driving in Florida is dangerous? One explanation: the study failed to consider that almost a quarter of Florida’s drivers are on the road without auto insurance. The researchers admit, “Of course, had we also considered the percentage of drivers operating their vehicles without car insurance, Florida wouldn’t be anywhere close to their spot in second.”

Other online driving surveys have contrasted dramatically with QuoteWizard’s findings. For example, in October, EverQuote.com, an online auto insurance marketplace, ranked Florida near the top when it comes to distracted drivers. “Our … data found that Florida drivers use their phone on average 1.4 phone uses per trip and the state ranks 2nd worst nationally for phone use while driving,” the report stated. EverQuote.com also ranked Interstate 4 as the most dangerous highway in the United States, and Interstate 95 was ranked as the nation’s fifth-most dangerous highway.

WHAT CAN DRIVERS DO TO BE SAFER?

Those who live in the state of Florida and drive here every day know well that the nation’s safest drivers – or even the second-safest – generally are not driving in Florida. Especially through the holidays and the winter tourist season, this state’s traffic can be a nightmare. Listed below are some safety suggestions to consider as you drive this winter on Interstate 95, Interstate 4, or anywhere else in the Sunshine State:

• Eliminate the distractions: Don’t eat, text, groom, or do anything but pay attention to the road. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t use any intoxicating drugs, either, even legal prescriptions. Don’t be distracted by children, pets, or the radio. Pay attention to only the road and the traffic surrounding you.

• Don’t tailgate: Drivers in Florida sometimes stop unexpectedly, and sometimes they stop for no apparent reason whatsoever. Allow a full car length between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you for every ten miles per hour, and a bit more just to be safe.

• Slow down in construction zones: The ex-director of the Florida Highway Patrol, Col. David Brierton, says: “Construction crews face difficult conditions every day while they work to improve our highways and make them safer. And those conditions are made even more difficult when you factor in the daily flow of traffic they must work around.”

• Do not exceed the speed limit: Obey the posted limits – they are not “suggested” speeds. Excessive speed is a leading factor in fatal traffic collisions everywhere.

• Keep your vehicle maintained by a certified mechanic – especially the lights, brakes, tires, wipers, and safety belts. Keep abreast of recalls for defective vehicles and vehicle parts. Recalls have reached record levels in the last several years, and tens of millions of vehicles have been recalled for safety reasons.

Whether you live in a state with the best drivers or a state with the worst drivers, it’s imperative to have sufficient automobile insurance. Anyone who is injured by a negligent driver on Interstate 95 or anywhere else in South Florida should discuss the case with an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer. Those injured by negligent drivers in this state are entitled to receive complete compensation for their medical treatment, lost wages, and all other accident-and-injury-related expenses – but they’ll need an attorney’s help.

HOW RELIABLE ARE ONLINE SURVEYS?

Obviously, driving on I-95 or I-4 can be dangerous, but serious accidents can happen anywhere. Rural highways and roads without safety features like rumble strips or dividers can be just as hazardous as the most crowded interstates. And broad generalizations about large groups of drivers don’t really do much to make the streets and highways safer. After all, even the same person can be a safe driver in the morning and a negligent driver in the afternoon – whether on I-95 or in a quiet residential subdivision.

An experienced West Palm Beach motor vehicle accident lawyer can answer your questions after a traffic accident and provide candid legal advice and insights you can count on. As for most “online surveys,” they’re somewhat less reliable. Unless a survey is conducted by a government agency or a university, it’s probably a marketing tool, so you can safely ignore it. What’s much more important is keeping up with vehicle recalls, keeping your own vehicle maintained, and focusing – when you’re driving – exclusively on driving.