Why are women charged six times more than men to learn how to drive?

Why are women charged six times more than men to learn how to drive?

Al-Riyadh newspaper

In a recent article, I asked a few questions with regard to allowing women to drive in the Kingdom. Unfortunately, I have not received any answers from the General Department of Traffic or from any responsible authority. However, I realized that some of my questions were actually repetitive as other women had already asked these questions on social media and they have also not received an answer.

In my article, I mentioned the General Department of Traffic’s delay in forming a plan to improve infrastructure before women start driving. Moreover, there are a limited number of driving schools in the Kingdom that are confined to five or six cities. Makkah, Madinah, Jazan, Abha and Najran still have no driving schools. Some of the agencies that signed agreements with driving schools to teach women to drive have also been prevented from announcing their partnerships for unknown reasons.

Furthermore, the cost of teaching women to drive has not been set by the government, so driving schools are free to charge what they wish. These prices are not in sync with what men are charged for the same service.

There have, as a result, been campaigns calling for realistic prices. One university in Riyadh announced prices as high as SR2,500. Under pressure, it decided to waive the VAT and decreased the cost from SR2,500 to SR2,400. Unfortunately, even after all of this, the choices on offer to women are limited and expensive. I fear that this will encourage some women to get behind the wheel without a driving license. The Jeddah Advanced Driving School is no different as it charges SR2,250 and states that there will be additional VAT and costs relating to the issuing of licenses.

What makes things even more strange is that the Head Manager of the Saudi Traffic Safety Society Dr. Abdul Hameed Al-Mojil in a recent newspaper article stated: “The cost of teaching women to drive is going to be between SR2,000 and SR3,000. Driving schools for women are going to be exemplary schools and totally different from driving schools for men. The lessons seek to teach women to drive perfectly under the supervision of qualified trainers. The costs are determined according to the high quality of training.”

I would, however, like to remind our readers that men are charged no more than SR450 for five days of lessons and SR560 for 15 days of lessons.

Al-Mojil’s announcement is contradictory. He seems to somehow justify the illogical difference in prices. He justifies this by multiplying by six the costs for women as if they need extra lessons. I cannot understand how men are trained for only a few hours and at a lower cost, as if they are professional drivers while women are totally the opposite.

Even though he is employed by the Saudi Traffic Safety Society which was established in 2010 and monitors road accidents, Al-Mojil was unable to link road accidents in the Kingdom to men driving badly which can be attributed to poor training.

It is shameful to see so many road accidents in the Kingdom due to far too much leniency in the way driving licenses are issued to men. It is as if they were planning to compensate for 70 years of reckless driving by teaching women how to drive. Car insurance companies around the world consider women to be careful drivers.