A mixed, bilingual message

By Jami Jones
senior editor

Many states are providing tests for both commercial driver’s licenses and driver’s licenses in languages other than English. Be it for political correctness or outreach, it doesn’t matter. It’s wrong.

Tests for driver’s licenses have nothing to do with being the melting pot – they have everything to do with highway safety.

Driving tests are designed, theoretically, to make sure the people taking them are ready to navigate their way safely along our network of streets, highways and interstates.

Those streets, highways and interstates are lined with signs – signs in English. These signs tell us everything from how far it is to the next restroom, to which lane to be in, to how fast you can drive. And, that’s just for starters.

These signs are your saving grace when going through a “Mixmaster” in an area you’ve never been.

We’ve all been there before where three or four interstates converge – north routes heading off to the east, south routes exiting north. It gets confusing. Logic rarely gets you through. It’s the trust that the signs will guide you.

Well, it’s that trust and the fact that we are able to read and comprehend sign after sign after sign.

Continuing to give licensing tests in other languages and allowing gestures and nods to get these drivers through just puts them – and the rest of us – in danger.

Adding other languages to all of our signs isn’t an option. Most states are trying for bigger lettering to accommodate “older” drivers. Not every sign can be a billboard with huge letters forming words in English and other languages.

Being able to communicate must include a reading test with an established minimum standard.
Lawmakers in Missouri, Montana and Texas punched in to this fact and tried to pass legislation that would have mandated reading and speaking requirements in English during the testing.

nterpreters would have no longer been allowed, either. The bills missed deadlines to advance, effectively killing them.

That was a good try – just get it done next session. We can only hope lawmakers in more states punch in.