Truckers Demand CDL Tests Only Be Administered in English in Wake of I-70 Tragedy

Denver, CO — New momentum is building within the trucking community calling for commercial drivers license (CDL) testing to only be administered in English.

In the wake of Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reporting this week that Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, the trucker convicted in a deadly 2019 crash along Interstate 70 which killed four people and injured six others, took his written CDL test in Spanish, truckers are speaking out.




 

While federal regulations require CDL drivers be able to “read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language…” states are allowed to administer the knowledge tests in a foreign language, provided no interpreter is used.

Many truckers are demanding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiate a rulemaking to change this policy.

The issue has long been a controversial one within the trucking community.

Some argue an English-only CDL testing policy would discriminate against immigrant truckers who may not have enough grasp of the language to understand the complexities of such a test, but still be able to meet the minimum federal requirements.




 

Plus, regulations already disallow the use of an interpreter during the CDL skills examination requiring that neither the applicant nor the examiner may communicate in a language other than English.

Still, hundreds of truckers sounded off on TNN’s social media platforms about the issue again this week.

L.P Weigel, a TNN Top Fan who is also a driver and CDL instructor/examiner, said requiring CDL tests only be given in English is important to maintaining safety on U.S. roadways.

“Yes this would make things more challenging to get drivers on the road, but safety must be the first consideration!” he wrote on Facebook.

“I have never seen a sign on a highway in Spanish, so why should a CDL test be taken in that language?” Antoine Manning questioned.

 

The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) is petitioning the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to take action on the matter.

“The Mederos case brings to the forefront just how important it is for drivers to be able to read and understand English,” SBTC President James Lamb told TNN this week. “There is no good reason why USDOT should not enforce its rule requiring English proficiency on knowledge exams by preempting those state laws and rules that conflict with the Federal English proficiency standard.”




 

The FMCSA last considered making changes to the rule in 2003, but decided to take no action.

“The tests, training and study manuals associated with obtaining a CDL are complex,” the Agency explained at the time. “Therefore, the administration of the CDL test in languages other than English is justified.”


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Further, the FMCSA asserted the burden to determine a driver’s ability to meet the English standard should continue to fall on the carriers which employ them rather than state driver licensing agencies.

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Comment (1)

  1. I agree if you are going to drive on us Hwy you should be able to understand English road signs. To many accidents and all you hear is no speak English or no understand. Or we could have Spanish road signs next to English road signs…

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