Jokes on women driving

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Al-Riyadh newspaper

I PERSONALLY like sarcastic criticism as a reader and not as a writer, and often enjoy satirical presentations in art forms and in writings. However, I strongly believe that such criticisms should be made to send home useful thoughts and ideas and should not exceed the limit, reaching the stage of personal attack.

Sarcastic criticism should have the characteristic of lightness in terms of meaning and time and should not last long to frame a particular case or community.

I think the most important issue these days is the preparation for women’s driving on the Kingdom’s roads for the first time in its history. The move comes after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman lifted the ban on women driving. Relevant authorities have been making necessary arrangements and holding awareness campaigns to help women drive safely.

Unfortunately some people have taken this matter sarcastically and have been publishing messages on social networking sites, giving a wrong message. Most people have taken it in bad taste as it may discourage women to drive in the Kingdom.

These criticisms support stereotypical opinion about Saudi women as they are ignorant of driving and will not abide by traffic rules and regulations. It also gives the wrong impression that women drivers would become the main reason for road accidents and deaths in the coming days. This approach, even if unintentional, will have a negative impact on women in the long run.

A recent Norwegian study has revealed that women are less likely to be distracted while driving than men. At the same time young male motorists are more at risk of being distracted behind the wheel due to different reasons including rash driving.

Researchers surveyed 1,100 high-school students and 617 adults in the first study of how drivers' personal traits are linked to distraction.

“I found that young men were among the most likely to report distraction,” said researcher Ole Johansson. “Others more prone to distraction include those who drive often, and those with neurotic and extroverted personalities.”

Johansson said the findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, suggests “tailored interventions” should be used to reduce driver distraction among at-risk groups.

Previous studies have found that being distracted for just two seconds dramatically increases the risk of crashing. More than a million people are killed in road accidents across the world each year, according to the World Health Organization.

The study showed that 12 percent of road accidents occur as a result of negligence and mistakes of drivers, including the use of smart phones while driving and listening to car radio as they have been considered major distractions for drivers.

Male motorists should know these scientific studies to stop making false claims that women cannot become professional drivers. I wanted to highlight this issue before such wanton criticisms cause irreparable damage to the community of women drivers and reduce its future negative impacts and implications.

At the same time, I do not agree with women’s claims that the lifting of ban on women driving was a big victory for them over men. Although a few men have prevented their women from driving due to ideological and social reasons, we should not take the lifting of ban as an opportunity to attack men.

We should understand that the relationship between women and men is based on cooperation and integration. Any confrontation between them would not benefit either side nor would it benefit the community and the nation. Moreover, it would not contribute to the wider nation-building process.

We have to cross the ocean in this ship of nation to reach our destinations together without internal conflicts. Both men and women should march together under the national flag to achieve greater progress and prosperity.


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