Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

October 31, 2013

Looking at the Saudi driving ban

(Continued)

Saudi Arabia has a pretty well-registered case of reckless driving, affected by what commentators call “tufush,” a national boredom among the country’s young men that stems from chronic unemployment the constraints of ultraconservative social mores. This boredom has reportedly spawned a thriving underground car culture, in which wealthier men drag race high-end cars and lower-class men “drift” cars through traffic. The scene has led observers to compare the streets of Saudi Arabia to a mix of “Death Race” and “The Fast and the Furious.” Of course, the relationship between a culture of reckless driving and the all-male Saudi driver base could be more than coincidental: a recent U.S. study by Quality Planning, a firm that conducts research for insurance companies, found that men were 3.4 times as likely as women to be ticketed for reckless driving and 3.1 more times as likely to get a ticket for drunk driving.

At least sixteen women have been fined for defying the ban on driving in Saudi Arabia in recent demonstrations, but a post on the campaign’s Facebook page vowed that women in the country would keep up the protest. A Saudi woman who was filmed driving during the demonstrations told Reuters, “Yesterday there were lots of police cars so I didn’t take the risk. I only took the wheel for a few minutes. Today I drove and nobody stopped me. For sure I will drive every day doing my normal tasks.” If the current state of driving in Saudi Arabia is any indication, that kind of resolve from other women might be the best thing for the country’s public safety.

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