Want to Pass Your Driving Test? Hire a Translator
Immigrants are to be banned from taking driving tests in their native language amid concerns rogue translators are helping them cheat.
Ministers are understood to be considering ditching rules “within months” which allow learners to sit theory tests in any of 19 foreign languages – including Urdu and Albanian. A system which allows translators to currently sit in on the practical test to explain the examiner’s instructions will also be stopped.
Nearly 800 people have had their licences revoked in the past two years, after investigations by the Driving Standards Agency uncovered evidence of translators coaching learners during their test, it was reported.
Dozens of further cases are also in the pipeline and nine translators have been struck off the approved list.
A Department for Transport source said each investigation costs an average of £10,000 – and warned that the cases uncovered so far may be just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Ministers are also concerned about the safety implications of providing driving licences to thousands of people who do not speak English and cannot read road signs.
Figures show that in 2010, some 93,407 driving theory tests were conducted in a foreign language. More than 1,500 people also took the theory test for a bus driver’s licence in a foreign language.
Transport minister Mike Penning said the existing rules, which were introduced by the last Labour Government, acted as a disincentive for immigrants to learn English.
He told the Daily Mail: “This practice is wrong on many levels, and we are going to end it. It is very hard to fathom the logic of why it was ever allowed in the first place. Road safety should be our priority, not political correctness.
“It cannot be right to be handing British driving licences to people who are unable to read warning signs flashed up on motorway gantries. There is also evidence of fraud.
“But there is also a wider point about community cohesion – we should be encouraging people to learn English, instead of offering them ways to avoid it.”
Government sources said the change, which could be brought in as early as the autumn, did not require a change in the law. In future, drivers will be able to take their test in only English or Welsh.
However, it is understood the Equality and Human Rights Commission has privately warned ministers the ban may breach anti-discrimination laws unless firm evidence demonstrating that people taking tests in a foreign language is a threat to road safety can be provided.
Mr Penning said he was confident there was “just cause” for the ban, and added that most other EU countries did not allow learner drivers to take their driving test in a foreign language.
Taken from The Telegraph: 02.02.12