Would-be drivers will soon be unable to sit their tests in a foreign language, as ministers address safety fears. There are increasing concerns that the 60,000 learners who take driving tests with the help of interpreters or foreign commentary are potentially dangerous as they cannot read road signs.
The government is also keen to stamp out fraud. There are worries that interpreters are giving people extra assistance during theory tests, which can currently be taken in 19 foreign languages. Translators can also be used during the practical test.
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Safety to be improved
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We want to make sure that all drivers have the right skills to use our roads safely and responsibly, and one way we can do this is by requiring all test candidates to take the test in English or Welsh.
“This will help to ensure that all new drivers will be able to understand traffic updates or emergency information when they pass their test. It will also help us to reduce the risk of fraud by stopping interpreters from indicating the correct answers to theory test questions.”
In 2012, around 56,000 people requested foreign voiceovers for their theory test, while 1,700 were aided by interpreters. 19,500 practical test candidates were accompanied by a translator. The cost of translating f driving theory tests into different languages is paid through taxes, but individuals must pay for their own interpreters for the practical side.
Fraud a major problem
Since 2009, in the region of 1,000 drivers have lost their licence having been caught cheating during their test.
Chinese translator Allyson Ng was jailed for a year by Cardiff Crown Court this summer for indicating the right answers to multiple choice questions in the theory test. The court heard Chinese learners were unfamiliar with the Highway Code, as they relied on Ng to help them pass. It was soon clear that the popularity of Ng with Chinese candidates was down to her ability to make life easy for them.
Strong public support
Seven in ten people support the removal of foreign language voiceovers and translators in tests, according to a consultation conducted this year. The bar will come into play next February, with a phased removal from driving centres throughout Britain.
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Source: The Telegraph
Date Published: October 9, 2013
Author: David Brown