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Unfounded fears

Some of the obstacles that have long hindered driving by Saudi women have been linked to fears for their safety, especially in situations of car breakdowns or accidents in remote areas. There have also been concerns about harassment by other road users, especially young male drivers.
However, new technology can now resolve these fears and give women reassurance on the roads. Modern cars are marvelous pieces of engineering, more reliable than at any time in the past.
A modern car with adaptive cruise control can keep a safe distance from the car in front at variable speeds. Automatic emergency braking can help in stopping the car in critical situations. Automatic parking takes the strain of parking the car in tight spots. Front and rear sensors can help in stopping the car during maneuvers.
On the road, programs for lane-keeping and monitoring driver’s fatigue can help the safety of the car and its passengers.
An important addition for Saudi women is fitting front and rear cameras for constant recording of road conditions. These cameras can help in cases of harassment and be used as evidence in any subsequent prosecution.
The situation would get even better in the future with advances in autonomous driving technology. Already, cars such as Audi A8 have Level 3 self-driving technology that allows the car to steer itself in well-marked lanes.
While modern navigation systems guide the car to its destination safely, road-assist apps by many companies can locate the position of the car and rush for help at a push of a button. Tracking programs can locate the car at any time.
Mobile phones help in giving assurance on the road in cases of breakdowns or accidents. Women can also make use of head-up display and night-vision systems for safer driving.
In a few years’ time, technology may take over the whole business of steering a car, in autonomously driven vehicles that need no women — or men — to drive them.
• Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist, based in London.

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