Oregon driving instructors help Saudi Arabian woman get behind the wheel

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU/CNN) – Lois Lents has taught thousands of drivers during her years as an instructor. She said, “You got to be relaxed as a driving instructor.”

Lents is part of a trio of women who are set to teach new drivers the rules of the road.

They remember how difficult it was for them at first. But these driving lessons will be much different.

In a few days, they’re heading to Saudi Arabia, where women are still banned from driving.

But that all changes this summer, so the ladies will be teaching the first Saudi women how to drive.

Lents said, “I am humbled to be standing at this historic moment and to play any part in it at all.”

It’s vital they go to Saudi Arabia, since the country only allows women to teach other women, and right now there are no female driving instructors in the entire country.
“We’re starting from ground zero,” Lents explained.

This trip will last 10 days. They expect to go back later this spring and get Saudi women behind the wheel.

Learning to drive could provide an open road to women there in their fight for equality.

Driving instructor Sheryl Van Derwalker said, “They estimate that 9 million of them want to drive right now. How do you do that?”

They just found out about this opportunity a month ago. Lents said, “First it was Saudi Arabia. You got to be kidding me, And then it was like. ‘Yes, oh yes, I’ll go.’”

Their excitement hasn’t worn off, but they are worried, knowing that if something goes wrong it could be a hurdle in the fight for freedom for millions of Saudi women.

Instructor Dominique Kuzmaak said, “There will be a group of people that do not want this change to happen. And we need to get this right so that we can prove that it works.”

The women behind Driving Solutions International will also work on ensuring women aren’t subject to additional rules or regulations to get a driver’s license.

The country doesn’t have very rigorous standards for male drivers at the moment.

© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

Skip to content