msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/30/2010 8:00:15 PM ET 2010-07-31T00:00:15

Men's car accident rates rise along with women's summer hemlines, says a new study by a U.K. insurance company.

The London Telegraph said the study by car insurance company Sheilas' Wheels claims men get into more accidents in the summer because they are distracted by women's skimpy outfits.

The study shows that 29 percent of men admitted being distracted by short skirts and low-cut tops in summer weather, leading to record numbers of accidents on the roads, the Telegraph said.

The results were met with skepticism in Internet comments.

Sheilas' Wheels said the summer smash phenomenon is getting worse each year — in 2009 men made 16.4 percent more claims during the summer than in any other month, the Telegraph said.

The insurance company, which specializes in selling policies to women drivers, also found that a quarter of male drivers have had at least one summertime crash or very near miss in the last five years, compared to just 17 percent of women.

Behavioral psychologist Donna Dawson told the Telegraph: "Research shows that men are far more easily distracted behind the wheel than women.

"Men are more visually orientated and so distractions such as an attractive woman walking down the street can quickly take their attention away from driving and the job in hand.

"Testosterone also plays a part, as it makes men more prone to aggression, especially when frustrated by a confined space such as a car — and men are quicker than women to expose such irritability in hot weather."

A spokesperson for Sheilas' Wheels told the Telegraph: "Men are significantly more likely than women to claim during the summer months — often as a result of wandering eyes.

"We urge all motorists to keep their eyes on the road — regardless of outside distractions - and keep cool behind the wheel," Sheilas' Wheels said.

"A car is a dangerous weapon in the hands of a distracted driver and a momentary lapse can lead to a lifetime of regret if a serious accident occurs."

Story chats and blogs about the report included these remarks:

Sinead.elliot on Jezebel.com: "Can somebody, anybody, please share a link to any scientific, thorough, unbiased, credible and peer-reviewed study that backs this statement up? And more than one would be rockin'."

Asiya Islam on Women's Views on the News: "In the past, women have been blamed for wearing revealing clothing and thus 'provoking' rapes, now are they to be held responsible for careless/mindless driving leading to accidents as well?"

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