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Stricter English rules for U.S. truckers

Trucks and cars drive down the New Jersey Turnpike.

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Federal law requires commercial truckers to speak enough English to read road signs and talk to police. Now the federal agency that oversees commercial trucking is planning to tighten those rules.

From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.


Dan Grech: Commercial truck drivers are in short supply so companies have been recruiting heavily among Hispanics. Today, one in six drivers is Hispanic. That's more than half a million truckers nationwide.

No one knows how many of those drivers don't speak English, but truck driver David Casanova says it's often difficult to communicate by radio with other drivers.

David Casanova: You can't talk to them over the CB. How do you tell a guy, "You got a flat tire" or "Hey buddy, you know, you got a trailer door swinging" if they don't understand? Or, "Listen, you can't be on that road. It says right there 'No trucks.'" I've seen that a couple times.

Last year, more than 25,000 tickets were given to truck drivers who didn't speak English well enough to talk to police.

Starting sometime next year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will ban interpreters from the driving portion of the license exam. That's expected to weed out drivers with poor English skills. Applicants can still take the written portion of the test in their native tongue.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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