The decree issued by Saudi King Salman bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz nine months ago lifting the ban on women drivers in the kingdom will go into effect on June 24, 2018. In the lead-up to the historic date, Wafa Al-Rashid, a columnist for the Saudi 'Okaz daily, attacked the demeaning and patronizing attitude of some men toward women drivers. In a column titled "Men, We Will Be Better Drivers than You Are," she stated that women are better drivers than men and presented data from studies that prove this.
Wafa Al-Rashid (Image: 'Okaz, Saudi Arabia, June 10, 2018)
The following are translated excerpts from her column:
"The tenth day of the month of Shawwal [June 24, 2018], the historic date when women in the Saudi kingdom will be permitted to drive in their homeland, is approaching. Many await this day with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation, since there are those who habitually mock women and the decision [to permit them] to drive, [and this] led to the social networks being flooded with reactions and video clips belittling women and their driving abilities.
"Today I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that we will drive better than you men! I don't [say this] because as a woman I am siding with the women, but on the basis of social, psychological, and economic reasons that I will support with scientific [evidence] so as not to be accused of feminist thinking.
"A study undertaken by the international Zurich Insurance Group in collaboration with the Emirati 'Road Safety' website, in which more than 1,000 UAE drivers participated, reveals that 38% of the men were involved in traffic accidents as opposed to 27% of the women. The study determined that the percentage of women in the UAE who were involved in traffic accidents doesn't exceed 20% of all the women drivers in the UAE...
"Research conducted in the U.S. proves that although there are 105.7 million women who hold a driver's license, as opposed to 104.3 million men... Men commit more traffic offences than women do, so that for every woman who commits a traffic offence, there are 3.4 men who have committed one. According to the study, the reasons for this are reckless [driving] or speeding, and a tendency to neglect wearing a seat belt. In the U.S. in 2017, 6.1 million traffic accidents were recorded that were caused by men, as opposed to 4.4 million that were caused by women.
"Today, gentlemen, we find that in the U.S. and Canada, [drivers'] insurance for women costs less than it does for men. The cost of insurance [for women] is further reduced if the woman is married and has a family, for it has been proven that married women are involved in fewer traffic accidents than those who are unmarried. The study also proves that women are better at using their side and rear view mirrors while driving than men are. In the city of New York alone it was found that men are responsible for 80% of the traffic accidents in which [pedestrians] were run over...
"Is the picture clear now?
"Let's think twice before we accuse women of inferior driving abilities.
"And ladies, if this issue is used to provoke you, please note that I have presented a large amount of precise data [based on research] and not on the view of some men who refuse to accept that the world around them is changing and that women are indeed entering [the arena], and they must shake off their rigidity and deal with the new reality. We will drive and we will do it better than they do. My best wishes to you, men, and thank you for your understanding."
 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), June 10, 2018.