Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mo. House bill would require English driver's license tests

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Republican legislators in Missouri have proposed a bill that may soon require all driving examinations to be conducted in English.

Currently, Missouri residents can take the exam in 12 languages and hire a state-approved translator at their expense, to assist with the driving test if needed.

Under the proposed law, applicants must take the written test in English or have it read to them.

Those in favor of the law say it is an issue of safety.

One of the bill’s supporters is State Representative Wayne Wallingford, who serves Cape Girardeau. He believes that drivers need to be able to understand all road signs, not just the ones on the test.

“You see a lot of signs, like the flashing digital ones, that talk about icy conditions and road hazards and things like that and none of them are in any other languages. So that could really be a safety issue as well,” Wallingford says.

Opponents argue that it will impede on immigrants’ ability to participate fully in society.

Zahir Ahmed, Executive Director of International Education and Services at Southeast Missouri State University, believes that this will affect those brought in to the U.S. to do specific, highly specialized jobs.

“This country not only brings international students, but also hires, brings warrants to get the top researchers and top people from other countries to come and work in the U.S for the betterment of the country,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said many of these workers bring their families with them and the change in law will initially make it more difficult for them to carry on their daily lives.

Ahmed went on to say that most of the international students on campus come here with enough fluency of the language to take the test in English.

Matthew Caldwell, KRCU


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