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Driving Tests: Foreigners

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assistance the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency makes available for people taking a driving test whose first language is not English. (158305)

The Driving Standards Agency offers assistance for non-English speaking candidates taking the theory and practical test.

The theory test is offered in 20 languages in addition to English. The non-English learner uses headphones to listen to an interpretation of the on-screen instructions.

On the practical element of the driving test, interpreters are allowed to accompany learners. Driving examiners are trained to identify any inappropriate assistance given by interpreters to a candidate.

The interpreter is only allowed to repeat the examiner’s instructions e.g. “take the next road on the right”. Therefore, the translation is short and it would be obvious if more was being said as the instructions are very repetitive. The candidate is not allowed to speak directly to the interpreter during the test.

Should an examiner suspect that the interpreter is interfering with the conduct of the test, he will ask the interpreter to only repeat what he has said. If the examiner feels that the interpreter has ignored the request he will terminate the test. This system works well and we have no evidence to suggest that it is being abused.