New Hampshire bill seeks English requirement for CDL applicants

| 1/22/2008

A state lawmaker in New Hampshire wants to make it clear that aspiring truck drivers must 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, has introduced a bill that would add those same requirements to state law.

New Hampshire isn’t alone in pursuit of rules intended to make sure commercial drivers can communicate in English. Similar efforts are being sought 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 – SB388 – is in the Senate Transportation and Interstate Cooperation Committee. It is expected to be considered by the committee Thursday, Jan. 24.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor