PA

Immigrants could soon be banned from taking driving tests if they cannot speak English or Welsh, following news of consultation on the language support available to learner drivers.

In a bid to increase road safety and reduce fraud, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is reviewing whether foreign language voiceovers and interpreters should continue.

Currently, learner drivers can take their theory and practical driving tests in any of 21 languages.

Nearly 145,000 tests are taken every year in languages other than English and Welsh, according to the Daily Mail, at a rate of around 2,700 a week.

Yet nearly 800 people have had their licences revoked in the past two years, after investigations by the Driving Standards Agency uncovered evidence of translators coaching learners during their test.

A Department for Transport source told the Telegraph that each investigation costs an average of £10,000 - and warned that the cases uncovered so far may be just the "tip of the iceberg".

Improve road safety
In addition to cracking down on fraud, ministers believe cutting language support will improve road safety, which is currently compromised by providing driving licences to thousands of people who do not speak English and cannot read road signs.

The proposals will also reduce costs as although candidates have to pay for interpreters themselves, the DSA pays for the annual update of voice-overs for the theory test which costs taxpayers £250,000 a year.

Waste of resources
Launching the eight-week public consultation, Road Safety minister Stephen Hammond said the Government's 'preferred choice' was to remove all voice-overs and translation services in non-national languages.

Mr Hammond told the Daily Mail: "We want to ensure that all drivers have the right skills to use our roads safely and responsibly. We also want to keep test fees to a minimum for candidates, and I am not convinced that providing translations is the most effective use of resources."






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