Written statement to Parliament

Driving Standards Agency launches consultation on a review of language support provided for driving test candidates

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Consultation launched seeking views on whether driving tests should be conducted only in the national languages of English, Welsh or British sign.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) today (5 February 2013) launched a consultation on the language support available to candidates taking theory and practical driving tests. The consultation seeks views on whether foreign language voiceovers and interpreters should continue to be provided or whether the statutory driving tests should be conducted only in the national languages (English and, in Wales, English and Welsh).

The reasons for adopting these proposals would be to:

  • improve road safety – there is concern about the ability of non-English or Welsh speakers to understand road signs and other advice to drivers
  • enhance social cohesion – to encourage integration in society by learning the national language
  • reduce fraud – to address the problem of an interpreter attending for test with a learner driver and communicating advice beyond a strict translation of the theory test questions or the instructions given by the examiner
  • reduce costs – there will be a small saving to DSA from not paying a fee to the theory test service provider for the annual update of voiceovers

There are 3 options for change. These include the removal of all voiceovers and translation services in non-national languages, as well as the retention of some elements of support. Consideration is also given to the option of making no change.

The consultation will run from 5 February to 2 April (2013). The consultation paper is available on the GOV.UK website.