Boost for road safety training in Saudi Arabia after driving ban for women lifted

5843796401 0961e475ac zA woman driving in protest in 2011. (Image Source: Robert Daly/Flickr)This week, King Salman of Saudi Arabia has issued a decree to lift the ban on women driving in the country - Health, Safety & Security Review Middle East managing editor, Georgia Lewis, looks at what this might mean for road safety training in the kingdom

A ministerial body will be set up to give advice and the royal order will be implemented by 24 June, 2018. Saudi Arabia's US ambassador, Prince Khaled bin Salman confirmed that women would not be required to get male guardian permission to take driving lessons and would not be limited as to where they will be able to drive.

With more drivers expected on the kingdom's roads as a result of the ban being lifted, driver safety training providers could certainly benefit from this landmark decree. Road safety is a serious issue for Saudi Arabia. The Directorate General of Traffic's 2015 annual report found that an average of 23 people a day die in crashes on Saudi roads, and a study by King Abdulaziz University found that 98.6 per cent of Saudi respondents used mobile phones while driving despite laws banning such behaviour. 

If the decree extends to women being allowed to drive heavy vehicles as well as passenger cars, there will be plenty of opportunities for providers of this specialised form of driver training, particularly if female trainers are available. In-house training may also have to be stepped up, especially if companies with large fleets are looking to hire women as drivers. In June, Volvo launched an extensive bus driver training initiative across the Middle East and Africa.

The decree could also mean job opportunities for women as taxi drivers in the kingdom. Earlier this month, Arab News reported that the Public Transport Authority (PTA) changed the requirements for the registration of Saudi nationals who want to provide taxi services through a new taxi app. This will provide opportunities for a wider range of ages, for drivers aged from 18 to 60. If women are able to drive taxis under the decree, this could provide employment, as well as opportunities for driver training, especially in regard to safety.

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