Truck drivers would need to speak English
By CHRIS BLANK
Associated Press Writer
Commercial truck drivers would be required to communicate in English and take their certification tests without the help of translators under a measure gaining first-round approval in the House on Wednesday.
Commercial drivers also would need to show they can read highway signs, fill out forms and respond to official inquiries, such as about what they are hauling.
Sponsor Rep. Neal St. Onge said it becomes a safety issue when a truck driver cannot read road signs and written information about construction and traffic conditions.
Commercial drivers are driving down the road in an 80,000-pound rocket full of gasoline, said St. Onge, R-Ellisville.
But critics said there is no evidence to suggest that drivers who cannot speak English are less safe than those who can.
Rep. John Burnett, D-Kansas City, said the requirement would open the door to discrimination by license testers who could deny licenses by claiming an applicant is not fluent enough in English.
Currently, people can take the written commercial license test in English or Spanish by computer. During the driving part of the test, evaluators can gesture to explain instructions.
The House already has endorsed measures to require English be spoken in official proceedings, bar illegal immigrants from state colleges and universities and require police to ask about the immigration and citizenship status of anyone they arrest.
Rep. Tim Flook said that unlike other symbolic measures, the driver’s license restrictions are something that actually protects people.
Flook, R-Liberty, has opposed much of the previous legislation.
The bill was endorsed by voice vote, but both Republicans and Democrats said during floor debate they supported the driving restrictions.
Rep. Tim Meadows, a former truck driver, said the licensing of drivers is an important safety check. He said communication and language skills are important.
These things aren’t toys. And if you’re on the road with one of these things and you get hit or your family gets hit, then (there is) the possibility of not being able to communicate with one of the drivers of one of these things when you need to, said Meadows, D-Imperial.
The bill requires another vote before moving to the Senate.
Commercial license bill is HB245
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>>Commercial drivers are driving down the road in an 80,000-pound rocket full of gasoline, said St. Onge, R-Ellisville.<<
Don’t say that! They are going to want a pay raise and then the price of everything will go through the roof. Can you imagine the cost if a drivers pay was doubled? Lettuce would cost at least 2 cents more. Well, a penny for sure.
Uhhh...no. I don't know of any trucks bigger than a pickup that run on gasoline anymore. Everything is diesel.
But, yes, they need to be able to speak English if they're going to drive in this country.