July 27, 2006 It’s a sad fact but despite thousands of years of civilization, it just takes a bit of frustration on the roads and otherwise law abiding citizens can get very ugly and threatening. A poll in the UK shows that nearly one in three female motorists admit to having been the victim of road rage or intimidation when travelling alone, which is why new UK car insurance company Sheilas' Wheels is offering a new device that aims to make women feel safer when driving alone after dark. 'Buddy on Demand' is a blow up man that inflates at the flick of a switch if and when a passenger is needed. It is designed to help women deter road-rage attacks, car jacking and intimidating behaviour by other motorists - especially at night - by giving the appearance of two silhouettes in the front of the car, instead of a single, female figure behind the wheel. The 'Buddy on Demand' was designed and created by Inflate, builders of the Office in a bucket and a range of other remarkable inflatable structures.
The female-friendly insurer polled women on the perils of driving solo and some claim they avoid getting into the car after 8pm. Over two thirds of women (69%) say they spend less than an hour a week driving after dark due to safety concerns.
Four in five women (82%) say they feel safer behind the wheel when there's someone sitting beside them - but of course it's impossible to always travel with a partner, friend or relative. This is where having a 'Buddy on Demand' can reduce the fear associated with driving alone.
The Driving Solo study also shows that women drivers feel most at risk by intimidating behaviour from a male driver (71%), when travelling in unfamiliar areas (65%) or after dark (46%). One in five (20%) women admit they have taken a diversion or changed their route to escape the threatening behaviour of another driver.
Jacky Brown, spokesperson for Sheilas' Wheels says: "Almost half of female motorists tell us they feel vulnerable driving alone at night - many never even get behind the wheel after dark - and that they would feel safer with someone next to them in the passenger seat. We're not saying that an inflatable man is the only answer but we do hope it will give women extra confidence and make journeys in the dark less fearful.
"The great thing about our Buddy is that you only inflate it when you need it. Then when you're finished with him, you can just pull the plug and put him back in the glove box."
Sheilas' Wheels, the insurance brand for women, is always looking at ways to highlight the issues facing women behind the wheel and offer solutions. Earlier in the year, it unveiled its 'S-clip' innovation - a simple seatbelt device for women to prevent the belt strap causing discomfort across the chest and ultimately encourage more female drivers to buckle up.
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 mechanics.
Just to clarify, the Sheilas’ Wheels name was born from the curious and somewhat outdated Australian colloquial expression used to refer to women – “sheilas”. No, Sheilas’ Wheels isn’t Australian and it sells car insurance to women in England but … go figure. The idea for Sheilas' Wheels grew from research which found that women make less insurance claims, are responsible for far fewer driving convictions and have attitudes towards cars, driving and other road users that are often more considered than those of their male counterparts.