Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How would you implement Saudi women's driving?

We haven't seen any articles recently about the issue of Saudi women driving in the world press. For a while there were almost weekly stories about the issue, now nothing. In the quiet between bursts of news, why not think positive and try to visualize the actual process of women getting permission to drive.

OK, imagine you've been given the job of implementing a new law permitting women to drive. So how would you do it? Instead of thinking about how many obstacles you'll face, all the conservative males who will be in an uproar, just concentrate on how to implement the new law.

Obviously, no one has asked me, but this is how I'd do it if I were put in charge.

1. Open a driving school for women in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam; and hire and train a staff of women to teach there. The women teachers could be Saudi women who have international drivers licenses and pass a driving test. The schools would be on the outskirts of the city and would have practice streets where the women could get used to driving, parking, etc.

2. Design a driving test, written and practical, to be administered to ALL young drivers, not just women. For women, the test would be given on-site at the schools. Perhaps in this way, young men can be trained to be respectful and responsible drivers.

3. When the driving schools are up and running, permit advanced women student drivers to be on the roads with their instructors in marked cars.

4. As women pass their driving exams, give them their licenses and voila, slowly, they will appear on the roads. And hopefully, it will turn out to be a smooth transition.

There has been talk about limiting the times of day when women can drive, and also the ages of women drivers. If I were in charge, I would not restrict such things. Each individual family can be as careful as they like.