While the news of Saudi Arabia lifting the ban on female drivers drew many sarcastic comments, reinforcing stereotypes that women are bad drivers, the kingdom's interior minister has asserted the contrary.
Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef has said that the move would decrease the number of car crashes in Saudi Arabia and actually make roads safer.
According to the BBC, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest traffic death rates in the world, as around 20 fatalities are registered on a daily basis.
Over 9,000 people died as a result of car accidents in 2016, making up 12% of the total deaths in the kingdom that year.
The interior minister expects that the new royal decree, which will see female drivers take the wheel as of June 2018, will reduce car crash rates and "transform traffic safety to [an] educational practice."
"Women driving cars will transform traffic safety to [an] educational practice which will reduce human and economic losses caused by accidents," the ministry's official Twitter account quotes him as saying.
The minister added that the country's security forces are "ready to apply traffic laws on men and women," referring to the royal decree as a "historic decision."
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced that it will allow women to drive, ending the long-standing policy that had been criticized by international campaigners and rights groups.
The royal decree mandates the creation of a ministerial body to give advice on the practicalities of the order within 30 days, and a full implementation by June 2018.
The ruling order, which was signed by King Salman, states that traffic laws will be amended to allow the government to issue driver’s licenses for men and women.