Footage of a young boy driving on a highway in Riyadh has emerged after another driver recorded the incident on his camera phone. The boy seemingly drives the car with ease along the busy road as an older man sits in the passenger seat.
According to Gulf News, social media users have called for the vehicle owner to be "severely punished" for their irresponsible behaviour as they believe that the act put many at risk. Others commented on the fact that it was not right to see a child driving freely, while women still cannot drive in the country. The video has now been viewed more than 160,000 times since being published to YouTube on Saturday (19 September).
This is not the first time a child has been captured behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia. In April a 15-second video showed a young boy driving a car while someone recorded him from the back seat. The video was viewed more than 284,000 times before the video was taken off YouTube.
Ali Al Rashidi, a spokesperson for the traffic general directorate, said the Kingdom had a "zero-tolerance policy" on allowing children to drive and that the parents would be held legally responsible for any accidents that occur while the child is behind the wheel of the vehicle. "We request all parents to make sure their sons do not drive for their own safety and the safety of others," Al Rashidi told Arabian Supply Chain.
Saudi Arabia has come under international scrutiny over the years for poor levels of road safety, with a World Health Organisation (WHO) report revealing in 2010 that the Kingdom has the world's highest number of deaths from road accidents. Meanwhile, the Global Road Safety Partnership said that road traffic deaths have more than doubled over the last decade, with the number of people killed on the roads "unacceptably high" at 24.8 deaths per 100,000 people.
In June a road safety campaign was launched by the organisation Saudi Total. The campaign aims to spread awareness about traffic safety amongst children of the country by educating them about traffic signs and signals, teaching them the basic principles of safe driving, and urging children to respect the safety of others on the road, all while abiding traffic regulations.
"Through this program we seek to create a generation fully aware of proper car driving and adhere to traffic rules and road safety," said Nizar Raydan, managing director of Saudi Total.