A SECOND OPINION: “Women Drivers!”

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Saudi Arabian activist Manal al-Shraif: she helped start the campaign for the right of Saudi women to drive


American women drive to work, drive their children to soccer practice and ballet lessons, drive to the grocery stores and shopping malls, drive to Church and evening concerts, and drive male drivers up the wall with their natural expertise at it!

by Mary Foran

In an online article in ARABNEWS.COM, an English Language Daily, published on September 27th, 2017, from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the writer states that King Salman issued a decree allowing women to drive in the Kingdom.

The Royal Court statement was carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The writer said that “this move is the latest in a string of social and economic reforms underway in the country.”

“The Royal Decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike,” the SPA said.

Prince Khalid bin-Salman: “No more need for women to get permission to drive from legal guardians”

“The decree orders the formation of a ministerial body to give advice on the practicalities of the edict within 30 days and to ensure full implementation of the order by June, 2018.”

“Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Khalid bin Salman, said that women will not need to get permission from legal guardians to get a license.”

This news from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia delighted women around the world, although it may have troubled a few old-fashioned men, who constantly and consistently complain about “women drivers”!

As a home-grown example, I obtained my driving permit, as do most American girls, at the age of 15, learning at the hands of experts from the Department of Motor Vehicles, and passing the written exam “with flying colors”. Be that as it may, my father and older brother both belittled my driving skills, and most men I know just don’t like to be driven by a woman.

I drive now every day, hither and thither, and carefully remember the rules and regulations, and watch out for traffic cameras, speed traps, speed bumps, intersections, bus stops, and most of all, cyclists and pedestrians; and since I’ve experienced a “fender-bender” in the pouring rain, I take good care of my tires and brakes. But the best part about it is that I mostly drive alone—male passengers are the worst side-seat drivers imaginable. Talk about “distracted driving”! Their constant nervousness and commentaries are worse than any cell phone or texting interruptions.

Women have been driving in the States for years but on the road they’re still belittled

Women have been driving in the States for years, but no matter how great they are at it, men always assume they know more and better. It could be true that women don’t familiarize themselves as much with the actual mechanics of their vehicles, but hey, isn’t that what auto shops are for? Not everyone can be a do-it-yourself mechanical genius, nor does everyone have the time or inclination to learn.

“My advice is NOT to have a male passenger telling you which way to go”

My advice to new women drivers is NOT to have a male passenger telling you which way to go or what to do. If you are going to freak out at an intersection, do it on your own or with friends, and first learn all you can about driving from a true expert!

American women drive to work, drive their children to soccer practice and ballet lessons, drive to the grocery stores and shopping malls, drive to Church and evening concerts, and drive male drivers up the wall with their natural expertise at it!

Car dealers love selling cars to women, because women love their cars! They get attached to a certain make and model, unlike men who usually tire of one brand after another, like they tire of their wives and mistresses!

It’s a cruel reality that driving itself didn’t liberate women from being considered second-class citizens. But the illusion of freedom that you have when you are driving and listening to YOUR favorite music on the Radio or CD player, really, really helps!

A car nowadays is an expression of one’s personal tastes; it is your home-away-from-home while you are commuting to and fro from one destination to another. It can be a fuel-saver or a gas-guzzler, or an electric hybrid, or even a self-driver! “The world is your oyster” when you finally, luckily, and safely, LEARN TO DRIVE!

Different countries have different reputations about the perils of driving. Some are considered complete maniacs at the wheel, while others are considered too timid and slow for words. The funny thing about automobiles is that they can and will go faster than most speed limit signs want them to, so keeping an eye out for posted limits is essential, and not being a lead-foot on the gas pedal, except on the autobahn, is a real requirement.

Most women are actually more careful when driving than men, whose testosterone flows with the power and speed of their vehicles.

The automobile, by law, is considered a deadly weapon in the wrong hands. “Vehicular homicide” is a real and terrible crime. The driver is totally responsible for what happens behind the wheel. So, have fun and freedom with the “wind in your hair” but remember: driving, even here, is a privilege, not a right. And when you can no longer follow the rules of the road, “they” take your license away from you!


Featured image/Manal al-Sharif, CC BY-SA3.0 cropped
Prince Khalid/Twitter
Female driver (an ad of a woman driving a Hupmobile, 1917)/Don O’Brien CC BY2.0
Woman driver with male passenger/ William Murphy, CC BY-SA2.0 cropped
Speed limit/Peter Shanks, CC BY2.0


About Mary
Born in Seattle, WA, U.S.A., and a graduate of the University of Oregon in Spanish and General Literature, Mary lived in Madrid, Spain during the 80s, a period in Spanish history which became known as “The Transition”. She taught English as a Foreign Language and worked as Managing Editor of the Guidepost when it was still a weekly print publication. She did a stint on Spanish Foreign Radio and Radio Cadena, and corresponded for a Financial Times of London newsletter. She still has ties to Spain, loves the people and the country, and has great hopes for the future!