Today marks a landmark decision by the DSA and DVLA. Learner drivers will no longer be able to take their theory and practical driving test in a foreign language. From today anyone taking the driving test in the UK must do so in English or Welsh. This is after long-standing rules permitting foreign language speakers to be able to sit the test have been changed.
In the past anyone taking the theory test would be able to with the aid of voiceovers in 19 different foreign languages. Candidates were previously able to take both the tests with the help of an interpreter. But the vast changes that come into being today have been introduced after an investigation showed more than 70% supported the stopping of foreign language voiceovers and interpreters. But surely this will have a negative impact on new drivers who do not speak either English or Welsh? After all London is a very multicultural city to learn to drive in!
Stephen Hammond the Transport Minister said: “It is vital that all users of the road have the right skills to use our roads safely and responsibly. Through stopping driving tests in foreign languages we will cut down on the risk of cheating considerably. This, in turn will help ensure that all drivers can read road signs and fully understand the rules of the road in the language they are displayed in.”
The investigations into the use of foreign language tests also uncovered the feelings of the respondents. Many agreed that not being able to read and understand English or Welsh would inevitably lead to drivers not taking heed of the signs displayed. They will not be able to understand traffic enforcement officers or details of road rules. This could put these drivers as well as other road users at high risk.
There have have been many concerns over cheating in the test when an interpreter is involved. Over 1,300 theory test passes having been revoked since 2008 after investigations found out that interpreters had actually been giving test candidates the answers instead of helping them understand the questions being asked.
But there were even more shocking statistics to be revealed! Between February 2008 and December 2009, over 20 per cent of all theory tests taken with an interpreter were found to be fraudulent. One cheating interpreter was found to have conducted 586 tests in which they fed answers to the candidate under the guise of it ‘helping’ them with the test. Last year, two interpreters were actually jailed for 12 months each, charged for helping learners cheat on their driving tests!