A Saudi woman defied a ban on women driving to get her husband urgent medical help after he collapsed at the wheel, Al-Watan newspaper said Tuesday.

It said the couple was driving from the eastern city of Dammam to the capital Riyadh Sunday night when the man started having trouble breathing and lost consciousness.

His wife, who had learned to drive on trips to the desert, jumped behind the wheel and drove 10 miles down the motorway to a gas station where he was treated.

Women are banned from driving in the conservative Muslim kingdom, where religious scholars fear it would encourage them to mix with men outside their family. The ban is enforced in cities and on main roads but often flouted in rural areas.

A proposal to ease the ban was blocked by the kingdom's consultative Shura council in May and the powerful interior minister, Prince Nayef, said the issue is not a priority.

Arab News daily reported Sunday that a Malaysian woman, who was unaware of the prohibition, was involved in an accident in the holy city of Mecca after she lost patience waiting for a driver and drove off by herself.

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