The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) consulted earlier this year on a series of proposals reviewing the level of foreign language support available to candidates.
This was in response to concerns about:
• potential road safety implications
• the risk of fraud
• the cost of providing translations
Almost 2,000 people had their say on the proposals.
A number of questions were asked but the main one was:
“Do you agree that we should allow theory and practical driving tests to be taken only in English and Welsh and remove voiceovers and interpreters from those tests?”
The result of that consultation question was:
Totally Agree – 1429 (71.59%)
Largely Agree – 105 (5.26%)
Slightly Agree – 25 (1.25%)
Slightly Disagree – 28 (1.40%)
Largely Disagree – 63 (3.16%)
Totally Disagree – 327 (16.38%)
Not Answered – 19 (0.95%)
As a result of the consultation the following has now been announced by the Department for Transport:
I have today (10 October 2013) announced that, from April 2014, foreign language support for candidates taking driving tests will no longer be available.
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) undertook a consultation on this issue between February and April 2013.
Candidates have previously been able to take the theory test in 19 languages, in addition to English and Welsh, and can attend for theory and practical tests with an interpreter. We are making this change to:
• improve road safety – in response to concern about the ability of non-English or Welsh speakers to understand road signs and other advice to drivers
• enhance social cohesion – to help individuals’ integration in society by learning the national language
• reduce fraud – to address the issue of an interpreter attending for test with a learner driver and giving information in addition to a translation of the theory test questions or the instructions given by the examiner
• reduce costs – there will be modest savings to DSA from not paying a fee to the theory test service provider for the annual update of voiceovers
The rationale for the changes appear sound to me and let’s hope that the outcome will have the desired effect on the safety of our roads and a reduction in fraudulent licences obtained.