New Hampshire bill seeking English requirement for CDL applicants dies

| 4/8/2008

A bill in the New Hampshire Senate died that sought to make it clear that aspiring truck drivers have a firm grasp of the English language before they obtain licenses to drive.

Federal rules require people who take tests to receive their commercial driver’s licenses to be able to read and speak English well enough to read road signs, prepare reports, and communicate with the public and with law enforcement.

Sen. John Barnes Jr., R-Raymond, introduced the bill – SB388 – to add those same requirements to state law. But the Senate Transportation and Interstate Cooperation Committee ruled it was “inexpedient to legislate,” effectively killing it for the year.

New Hampshire isn’t alone in pursuit of rules intended to make sure trucker-hopefuls can communicate in English. Similar efforts have been brought before lawmakers in statehouses that include Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia.

Supporters say restrictions are needed in states to help ensure that aspiring truckers and other drivers have a firm grasp of the English language before they obtain their license to drive. They also offer reminders about the federal rules.

Opponents say there are no studies that suggest English proficiency makes better drivers. Others say there are more pressing issues to address in the state.

The New Hampshire bill can be reintroduced during the 2009 regular session.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Hampshire in 2008, click here.