The DSA are currently reviewing the use of foreign language voiceovers and interpreters in UK theory and practical driving tests.
The potential changes have been put forward in response to concerns over the increased risk of fraud, potential road safety risks and the cost of providing translations.
Currently, anyone taking a theory test in the UK can request a pre-recorded voiceover or interpreter if their first language is not English or Welsh. Likewise, any candidates taking a practical test in the UK may request an interpreter to translate the driving examiner’s instructions. At the moment, this is available in 19 different foreign languages.
Risk of fraud
Since 2009, 861 people have had their test passes revoked because – with help from their interpreter – they had been told the correct answer in the theory test, or had received unfair guidance during the practical test. Nine people have been removed from the list of DSA-approved interpreters since 2009 in response to such cases.
In order to police such circumstances, the DSA have put measures, such as reviewing recordings of theory test translations, in place. The average cost of this, however, based upon 13 recent investigations, is around £94,500 per year.
Road safety concerns
Road safety minister, Stephen Hammond, addressed the road safety risk posed by those passing their tests using a voiceover or interpreter:
“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.”
He also spoke of concerns over drivers understanding road signs and important traffic signals:
“There is a potential road safety risk of drivers not understanding important traffic updates or emergency information, but allowing interpreters on tests also presents the risk of fraud, for example if they are indicating the correct answers to theory test questions.”
There are three options for change. They are:
- removing voiceovers (except English and Welsh) on the theory test and the use of interpreters on all tests
- removing voiceovers (except English and Welsh) on the theory test but keeping the use of interpreters on all tests
- removing interpreters on both theory and practical tests but keeping the use of voiceovers on theory tests
Any changes made will be as a result of the consultation, which runs until 2nd April 2013.
You can find out more about the proposals, and share your own views at GOV.uk.
Image via Ronald Lewis @ Flickr