FMCSA won't develop tougher English language requirements

| 7/25/2003

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration won't change current rules pertaining to English proficiency of CMV drivers.

The current rule requires drivers operating in interstate commerce be able to "read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, understand highway traffic signs and signals, respond to official inquiries and make entries on reports and records."

The issue made the news this month after a terrible accident about 45 miles north of Pittsburgh, where driver and Bosnian refugee Ejub Grcic ran a stop sign. A car hit Grcic's fuel tank resulting in the fiery deaths of five family members. Police said Grcic, 54, of West Valley City, UT, did not speak English well enough to communicate with authorities and needed an interpreter.

Meanwhile, there also is concern that English language requirements may not be tough enough in view of the government's desire to allow Mexican drivers to operate beyond U.S. commercial border zones.

However, the FMCSA concluded that at this time, "There is no quantifiable data on which to propose modifying the regulation to require a more stringent or definitive standard, or to require state motor vehicle agencies to administer a specific test for English proficiency."

FMCSA received comments from safety groups and law enforcement that drivers with limited English may pose a safety concern on the road, during safety inspections, while weighing a vehicle or during other routine law-enforcement actions.

--by Dick Larsen, senior editor

Dick Larsen can be reached at