Saudi Arabia finalizes driving license procedures, training programs for women

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All preparations are now complete and in place for women to begin driving, said the director of the Saudi General Department of Traffic.

The director, Maj. Gen. Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Bassami, said that the kingdom has so far launched five driving schools for women in cooperation with local universities in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Medinah and Tabuk. All the programs have been accredited according to international driving and safety standards, he added.

Also, 21 offices have been established to allow residents carrying a foreign driving license to replace it with a Saudi one. The locations include Riyadh, Dammam, al-Ahsa, Jubail, Buraidah, Oneezah, Hail, Tabuk, Jeddah, Taif, Makkah, Madinah, Abha, Arar, Jizan, Najran, al-Baha, Qurayyat and Sakakah. All licenses will be checked for their validity. They will also be verified through conducting a driving assessment in accordance with article 37, he added.

The procedures involved for women to obtain a driving license are clear and simple, said al-Bassami. According to Article 36 of the Traffic Regulation System, all applicants must be 18 years old to obtain a private driving license and 20 to obtain a public license. All applicants must pass medical, driving theory and practice tests involved upon completing the number of training hours necessary.

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Al-Bassami notes that the driving education program is an essential process since all applicants must complete a specified number of training hours at approved training schools. The director explained that the hours required vary from six hours, for those with basic driving skills, up to a maximum of 30 hours for beginners.

Al-Bassami said that women have the right to work as taxi drivers and to enlist in ride-hailing taxi services. Individuals interested in this will need to obtain the required driver’s license type.

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Speaking on recent criticisms against the prescribed cost for women to learn how to drive, al-Bassami said that the costs were only set following an economic study. He also said that the current costs set the margin and will not be exceeded. The same prices will also be imposed at men’s driving schools, he added.

On using universities as a learning platform for aspiring drivers, al-Bassami said that while the decision to cooperate with them is new, some universities have been given a license to establish top-of-the-range training centers for women. Also, the on-campus training program made it easier for women to train without disrupting their academic schedules.

On traffic violations, both men and women drivers are susceptible to the same fines if a regulation is broken. The system is clear and will apply to all without exception, he added.

According to al-Bassami, women in the kingdom currently play a role in monitoring traffic regulations. For instance, they have been drivers who are not complying with the seat-belt and mobile phone laws. Also, a number of women are being trained to take on administrative or field jobs.

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