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If you think Fresno is full of bad drivers, this study says you’re right

If you drive in Fresno, chances are you’ve seen someone run a red light, drive above the speed limit or cut off of a motorist on the highway, so it may come as little surprise that the city’s drivers are among the worst in the country.

Fresno is the 15th worst-driving city in the nation, according to QuoteWizard, an online insurance marketplace that compared the best and worst drivers in the 75 largest metropolitan areas for 2017.

But there’s another scary reason why Fresno ranked as such a poor driving city: Too many of us drink and drive.

We are fifth-worst for DUIs, according to the study. “That’s really the category that has brought Fresno to such a low ranking on our worst-driver study,” says Adam Johnson, content manager for QuoteWizard.

QuoteWizard compared accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs and citations in 2016 to rank the cities from worst to best. If it makes us feel better, we are far from the overall worst drivers in California. That distinction goes to Sacramento, which ranked as America’s worst-driving city.

And there were more cities in California that ranked worse than Fresno: Riverside ranked third, San Diego fifth, Los Angeles sixth and Bakersfield, 10th. The Bay Area ranked 13th worst.

Detroit ranked as the best-driving city.

To compare city driving, QuoteWizard used answers to questions it asks insured drivers who are looking for insurance quotes. The company asks on a form if the driver has had an accident, been arrested for driving under the influence, or had citations (a citation could be for failure to signal, running a red light, or talking on a cellphone).

Besides its DUI ranking of fifth worst, Fresno ranked 18th worst for citations, 24th worst for speeding and 31st worst for accidents.

Johnson says California cities’ overall poor showings in the study mirrors what the company found in December when it released rankings for driving in 50 states – California ranked as the second-worst driving state. “What I see is really common in California is a really (bad) DUI score, which is what contributes to California (cities) being in the lower half of the study,” Johnson says.

But it’s difficult to conclude that Californians have a bigger drinking problem than elsewhere, he said. “It could be that California has an initiative to really crack down on drunken driving.”

Fresno has had a focus for years on arresting drunken drivers, and enforcing traffic safety in general, says Capt. Michael Reid of the Fresno police traffic enforcement unit. Fresno officers made 1,598 DUI arrests in 2016.

Traffic collisions in the city are down by 9.1 percent year-to-date from May 2016, Reid says. Injury collisions are 14 percent lower and DUI-related collisions are down by 20.7 percent. “It’s how you look at it,” Reid says “We’re enforcing (driving under the influence laws) on the front end rather than when someone is in a collision.”

Another driving study released Tuesday ranked driver safety in the nation’s 200 largest cities.

The 2017 Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report, ranked Kansas City, Kansas, as having the safest drivers. Fresno drivers ranked 94th best.

Allstate used collision frequency to rank drivers. Kansas City drivers, for example, can expect to be in a collision every 14.9 years. While in Fresno, Allstate says a Fresno driver gets into a collision every 8.7 years.

Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter

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