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Sheilas' Heels Set to Revolutionise Driving for Women

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LONDON, June 14 --

- A Safe Flat and Sassy Heel in One

A new footwear design concept that aims to make women safer and more comfortable behind the wheel, without compromising on their style, is launched today.

Sheilas' Wheels has developed the 'Sheila Driving Heel' which gives women the best of both worlds - a safe, flat driving shoe and a glamorous pair of heels in one - all interchangeable at a push of a button.

More than 11.5 million(x) women drivers in the UK are putting themselves and other drivers at risk by wearing the wrong footwear when behind the wheel, according to new research from Sheilas' Wheels - the car insurer for women.

Around a sixth (15%) of female motorists in Yorkshire admit that they have had a car accident or a 'near-miss' because of their shoes slipping off or getting stuck between, or under, the foot pedals whilst driving.

The 'Safe Shoes' report shows that a massive 78% of female drivers in Yorkshire wear inappropriate footwear when in control of a car - choosing style over safety. Two fifths (39%) of all female drivers in the area confess to wearing flip-flops, while 19% claim that they have worn no shoes at all when driving, which experts say can be extremely hazardous and is currently illegal in some parts of the UK(xx).

In fact, over a third (34%) of women drivers in Yorkshire said they chose what shoes to wear when getting ready in the morning based on what went best with their outfit rather than being the safest for driving in.

Only around one in six (14%) female drivers in Yorkshire keep a spare pair of 'driving shoes' in the car to change into, while 19% admit they can't be bothered to change their shoes when behind the wheel even if they know they are not the safest for driving.

Jacky Brown, spokesperson for Sheilas' Wheels, said: "It's astonishing that so many women are putting themselves, their passengers and other drivers at risk by wearing the wrong shoe or no shoe at all whilst behind the wheel. Stilettos, sling-backs and strappy sandals aren't the sensible choice when it comes to controlling a car.

"Our Sheila Driving Heel design could provide safety-conscious female motorists with the ultimate driving shoe - allowing women to wear a safe flat shoe whilst driving, and a fashionable heel once they are out of the car."

The report highlighted that 75% of women in Yorkshire called for better guidelines to advise them on the correct form of footwear to wear when driving. A lack of understanding is clearly evident as almost three fifths (58%) of female motorists in Yorkshire believed that sports trainers were the safest shoes to drive in - even though their thick soles and chunky design limit both movement between, and contact with, the pedals.

Dianne Ferreira, spokesperson for Brake the national road safety charity, added: "An alarming number of female drivers simply do not realise the danger they are putting themselves, and others, in by driving in inappropriate shoes. High heels, platforms and flip-flops can seriously hamper your ability to drive safely, and could have fatal consequences. It only takes a few seconds to change your shoes before each journey to help ensure you arrive safely."

The Safe Shoes report also reveals that although two thirds of women (66%) wear heels when behind the wheel, they cited a number of disadvantages - all of which are eliminated by the 'Sheila Driving Heel' design:

- It damages or scuffs the back of the heel (52%) - with the 'Sheila Driving Heel' design, the heel tucks up into the shoe and out of harms way

- Heels can sometimes get caught under the pedal when driving (49%)

- the flat shoe option removes this potentially dangerous problem

- Wearing heels causes an uncomfortable driving position (43%) - the flat shoe option lessens pressure on the knee and lower back, improving comfort behind the wheel

- Heels don't provide enough grip (31%) - the 'Sheila Driving Heel' shoe has a discrete yet effective tread on the sole, to aid grip on the pedals

- It wears out the driving mat (17%) - the 'Sheila Driving Heel' shoe has a curved back to aid pivoting of the ankle and remove the possibility of damage

Female motorists can visit - the fan site for all things Sheila - to give their opinion on the 'Sheila Driving Heel'.

Notes to editors:

Sheilas' Wheels commissioned YouGov to speak to 754 female drivers during May 2007: 'Safe Shoes' Report.

Sheilas' Wheels: Sheilas' Wheels was launched in October 2005 to offer women drivers cheaper car insurance and product enhancements including GBP300 handbag cover - for bags stolen from the car (comprehensive cover only) - competitive breakdown recovery rates, a dedicated counselling line run by trained professionals to help customers cope with driving issues such as road rage (comprehensive cover only), and a network of female-friendly repairers.

Sheilas' Wheels, the insurance brand for women, is always looking at ways to highlight the issues facing women behind the wheel and offer solutions. Last year, it unveiled its 'Buddy on Demand' innovation - a blow up man that inflates at the flick of a switch if and when a passenger is needed to make female drivers feel instantly safer. and

(x) Source: Office of National Statistics, National Travel Survey 2004 (14.4 million women with driving licenses in UK) x 80% of those that wear incorrect footwear for driving = 11,520,000 women.

(xx) It is illegal to drive barefoot in Scotland.