Some government ministers have aired concerns over the fact that people can take driving tests in foreign languages. They have said that this might mean they are unable to understand road signs written in English. Many have said that a culture of political correctness has meant that foreigners can take driving tests in their native tongue.
Over 90,000 theory tests were conducted in a foreign language in 2010, something which the Minister for transport, Mike Penning has described as, “amazing.” Figures show that most foreign tests were conducted in Urdu, with the second highest number being conducted in Polish. Over one and a half thousand people have qualified to drive a bus in something other language than English.
The theory test, which has been translated into different languages, has been done so at the expense of the taxpayer. For practical driving tests however the candidates must pay for their own translator. Mr Penning said, “it shocks me that people who do not understand English to a basic enough level to pass the driving theory test are on our roads. Road safety is the priority of this government, political correctness should take a back seat to safety on our roads. I will be taking steps to change the law so the tests must be conducted in English.
“Instead of spending taxpayer money on translations, I want to see it spends on helping these people learn English so they will be safer drivers.” It seems however that European law will not make this possible as it would violate antidiscrimination measures. Mr Penning said that he is trying to find a way around this restriction. Other measures have also been announced by the current government to make the driving theory test more challenging. From early next year the test questions will not be published.