TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Despite widespread traffic jams that choked Florida's highways, state officials are defending the approach used during Hurricane Irma.

Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew on Thursday explained to state legislators why officials decided against reversing the flow on traffic on major highways such as Interstate 75. Other states such as Georgia made their interstate highways one-way as the storm approached.

Dew said a better plan for Florida was allowing motorists to drive on the shoulders of the road. Florida officials allowed this approach on both I-75 and I-4.

An estimated 6.5 million Floridians were urged to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma. Drivers spent hours on the state's roads due to heavy traffic.

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered a study on how to expedite evacuations from central Florida to the Georgia border.