Thursday, 2 February 2012
In this part of the world more and more often I read of court cases in which eastern Europeans are involved. Drink driving, driving without insurance and/or road tax and careless driving are all convictions I've read in the past few months.
Often I've wondered why so many eastern Europeans are involved in breaking the rules of the road, but now I know.
It is to be hoped that the transport minister Mike Penning takes urgent action to ensure that no more driving tests, either theory or physical, are taken involving interpreters.
Surely vital to road safety is the ability to read road signs where necessary and be able to understand the basic language involved with using the roads. Back in the 70s I sat a driving test in Germany and had to undergo a written test and road test without an interpreter. Prior to both tests I chose to undergo a German language course which specialised in vocabulary associated with all aspects of driving and vehicle ownership. There was no mention of an interpreter being available and the choice was simple; learn the language and then you will be able to sit the relevant driving tests.
Fortunately my new language skills made it easy for me to pass the Swiss driving tests some years later and I can't recall any mention of an interpreter then either.
Visitors to these islands have a difficult enough time coping with driving on the left hand side and many, prior to visiting, make themselves acquaint with the laws of the road. They may have language difficulties if they become involved in some incident and that's acceptable, but those who decide to live permanently must be able to understand enough English in order to help keep our roads safe.
If English classes, which teach language associated with owning and driving a vehicle, have to be introduced then surely that would be money well spent instead of the millions paid out in interpreters.