Safety first for Saudi women as they get behind the wheel

Nearly a quarter of women in Saudi Arabia have applied for a driving licence since the Gulf kingdom lifted its ban, with a further 61 percent intending to apply, according to a new survey.

The YouGov Omnibus poll said that for those who have not and do not intend to apply for a driving licence, fear of driving and safety concerns are the top reasons for not wanting to do so.

Despite the country recently launching a campaign to educate women on driving and create awareness about safety regulations, this still remains a barrier for women trying to get behind the wheel, the survey showed.

According to the poll, 27 percent said they feel it is dangerous and fear car accidents, while 24 percent do not know how to drive and 23 percent believe their husbands would not allow them to drive.

The survey also suggested that the lifting of the ban has opened a host of incremental opportunities within the auto market as over three-quarters of women who intend to drive (78 percent) plan to buy a car.

While carmakers in the region are gearing up to rev up sales with the influx of additional drivers, women who are embracing the opportunity seem most comfortable starting out with small cars.

When women were asked which type of car they would like to drive, the largest proportion said small sized sedans, followed by medium sized sedans and then medium SUVs.

Three in five women pointed out back cameras and reverse sensing systems are the most desired features in a car, according to the survey results.

Looking at the time period since the ban was lifted, YouGov BrandIndex data reveals Toyota is the top car brand for women in Saudi Arabia, followed by Mercedes and Lexus.

Kerry McLaren, head of Omnibus – MENA, said: “The lifting of the driving ban signifies independence for women and is also a great occasion for the automotive industry to further foray into Middle East’s biggest economy.

“It seems safety is a prime concern for women and they are more comfortable to start with a small car. The leading car makers thus have a great opportunity to appeal to these women with the right product offering and a carefully chalked out

marketing approach.”

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