I don't usually put much stock in those geographical Top Ten lists that periodically get published — you know, the ones with such headlines as Best Cities in Which to Live, Best Places to Retire, Best Party Colleges! Nevertheless, they can make for a fun read.
Self magazine recently came out with "The 10 Healthiest Cities for Women," which caught my attention because my first thought was, what would make a city healthy for women but not for men, too? Well it turns out that some of the criteria were women-specific, such as having a large selection of ob-gyn doctors and low rates of violent crime and rape. (Yikes! I find it disturbing that this latter statistic can make or break a city.)
Burlington, Vt., topped the list, and Fargo, N.D., rounded out the top ten. In general, the healthiest cities were those in which women had lower disease rates, were less likely to be victims of crime, had access to good medical care, ate well, exercised and got adequate sleep.
The Self survey of 100 cities encompassed all 50 states. Naturally, I was curious to see how Rhode Island fared. The Providence, R.I./New Bedford, Mass. metro area ranked 48 out of 100. While women here were found to be less likely to die of breast cancer and were cited for their diligence with clinical exams, I was angered to read this: "Among the places where women are least likely to wear a seat belt."
We here in New England pride ourselves on our fine universities, our intellectual curiosity and our open-mindedness. So how can it be that women here — or anyone, anywhere, for that matter — are still not buckling up? Yet Massachusetts ranks dead last in seat-belt use in the United States, with only 66.8 percent of drivers and passengers wearing them, and Rhode Island isn't too far ahead at 72 percent.
I was never a particularly good student of science, but even I understand that if you're hurtling along and your car should come to a sudden stop due to impact, your body will continue to hurtle along at pretty much the same speed as it was traveling before.
This British TV ad sums up the role of physics in a crash quite well:
It's too bad, but we'll never see such ads on this side of the Atlantic — it seems they're too graphic and disturbing for our sensibilities. Kind of ironic, isn't it, when you consider the violence we see on TV every day, both real and fictional?
When it comes to seat-belt use, apparently we'd rather be treated in a more gentle manner, with inane slogans like "click it or ticket." I'm sure the threat of a small fine isn't going to prompt the denizens of denial to buckle up, and maybe I'm naive to think that jarring ads like the one above would have a better chance of success.
I just don't get it. What's so hard to understand about the importance of wearing seat belts?