Women are strictly forbidden from driving in Saudi Arabia. So you can imagine how Susie, an American expat living in Jeddah, feels when she sees boys barely older than ten cruising at the wheel of their flashy SUVs.
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest road accident rates in the world. According to the Saudi transport ministry , there were 485,931 accidents on Saudi roads in 2008, 6,458 of which resulted in loss of life.
Susie lives in the western city of Jeddah. She writes a blog, Susie's big adventure.
I have tried to find out the legal driving age requirement here in Saudi Arabia, but that information is as elusive as the traffic laws. I've seen various accounts that range from 17 to 25, and just about every age in between. All I do know is that many of the drivers I have seen here are nowhere close to approaching their 17th birthday, let alone being 25.
One day I was crossing the street in a quiet residential section of town, and I was almost run over by a car driven by a boy who looked as though he couldn't have been a day over 10! These young boys drive, stretching and craning their necks in an effort to see over the steering wheel. This is not something I see every day because I am not out and about every day, but it happens with enough frequency that I am not shocked any more when I see it - I'm just angered that I am not allowed to drive here, yet these spoiled little brats CAN. As in many countries of the world, most boys here are raised to believe that they are superior to their sisters and are given special privileges just because they were born with a little extra appendage that girls don't have.
I'm guessing this boy is about eight years old - driving this big SUV on the busy streets of Jeddah AT NIGHT, during Ramadan, when traffic is especially heavy. In the front passenger seat is a bearded grown man, probably his father. It's hard to make out, but there are two other children in the back seat. None of the vehicle's occupants are wearing their seatbelts, of course. Most Saudis do not wear seatbelts as a rule, nor do they impress upon their children the importance of doing so. ".