Boston is the birthplace of the American Revolution. Along with neighboring Cambridge, it is home to some of the nation’s leading research universities and teaching hospitals. It’s where the Red Sox play their home games.

On these items, we will concede Boston’s superiority. But saying they have better drivers than Maine?

You must be joking.

But that’s what a recent study conducted by the nation’s auto insurers concluded, ranking Maine drivers as the seventh best in the country, which is respectable, but putting Massachusetts drivers in third place.

If they were ranking drivers on maintaining the shortest distance between bumpers, they might have a point.

A more careful look at the study, however, showed that what the insurers gave most weight to was the number of fatal accidents per mile driven, and that is something that Maine policymakers should not consider a joke.

A rural state like Maine, with dispersed development and crumbling infrastructure, is actually a more dangerous place to drive, even though the people operating the vehicles here are more courteous and cautious.

What the insurers were really saying is not that Massachusetts drivers are better than Maine’s, but that they are given safer roads to maneuver. So they are safer, even when they drive badly.

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