Stop Giving CDLs to Drivers Who Don’t Know English, Trucker Urges Top FMCSA Officials
Dallas, TX – It’s a topic that’s often discussed among truckers on social media and at truck stops, but has become incendiary and uncomfortable for many in today’s political environment.
Must operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) be able to read and speak English to lawfully obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Federal law states that “a motor carrier shall not require or permit a person to drive a commercial motor vehicle” unless that person:
Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records.
Is there a growing number of truckers who do not meet the federal standard?
“Yes,” says 47-year-old owner operator Joshua Williams, of Memphis, TN.
He believes it’s a “big problem.”
So much so that he confronted top officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) about it last Friday in a public listening session regarding the Agency’s newly proposed changes to hours of service (HOS) rule.
“You don’t have to speak English or understand English to get a commercial driver’s license anymore,” Williams asserted. “That’s something that needs to change. It hurts us.”
The mood of the room grew palpably tense as Williams sounded off about how he believes immigrants are “taking advantage of our laws.”
“People can’t read signs. They don’t understand English, but yet we’re hitting bridges, we’re hitting buildings, we’re going down places that we ain’t supposed to be going down,” Williams said to FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez and his top deputies.
He continued: “A sign says no trucks… they make right turns and take bridges out… that’s something that really needs to change.”
Williams, who has been an owner operator since 2011 and primarily hauls oversized military loads, didn’t stop there.
“They have no idea what they’re doing when you tell ‘em they’re not chaining it down right. They don’t like it. They don’t understand,” Williams commented.
An FMCSA official then responded to Williams asking, “Do you have a comment on the hours of service NPRM? What we are here to discuss.”
Williams moved on to discuss his desire for a military exemption to the HOS rules.
You can view the exchange by clicking HERE. (Begins at approximately 56:00)
However, he spoke with Transportation Nation Network (TNN) about why he chose to take such an opportunity to air his grievance on this issue.
He said, for him, it is a matter of safety.
“Wrecks have gone up. The wrecks have gone up because we are giving more CDLs to people who can’t read English,” he contended.
“They are paying folks off and pushing them through,” he said.
“It’s a huge problem and it needs to be addressed,” Williams continued. “If you come to our country you need to learn our language.”
Can CDL Testing Be Administered In A Foreign Language?
This is a question we at TNN receive frequently.
Earlier this year we reached out to the FMCSA to get specific clarification on the testing rules.
An FMCSA spokesperson reiterated that even though testing is conducted at the state level, each state must adhere to federal guidelines.
Those guidelines state that for the CDL skills test:
Applicants must be able to understand and respond to verbal commands and instructions in English by a skills test examiner, and neither the applicant nor the examiner may communicate in a language other than English during the skills test.
However, regulations pertaining to the CDL knowledge test are a bit different, the FMCSA spokesperson told TNN.
He referred us to the federal guidelines that state:
Tests can be administered in a foreign language, provided that no interpreter is used in administering the test.
To read more on the CDL testing regulations click HERE.
LATEST CDL SCANDALS
New Lawsuit Alleges Immigrant Truck Drivers Who Don’t Understand Much English Are Being Victimized
A new lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County alleges two Illinois-based trucking companies are exploiting immigrant truck drivers’ lack of proficiency of the English language in an “unjust enrichment” scheme.
In a proposed class action suit filed Thursday, August 8, 2019, plaintiff Zhanat Tlenchiyev accuses Patriot Transport Inc. and its sister company, Expeditor Systems Inc., of engaging in an “exploitative scheme” targeting truck drivers who recently immigrated to the United States.
Tlenchiyev alleges that owners of the two companies, Ivan Zabolotovsky and Igor Terletsky, exploit immigrants by improperly classifying them as independent contractors, making illegal deductions from their paychecks and failing to compensate them for all miles driven.
To read more on this case click HERE.