More than 90,000 candidates last year needed help to translate signs from English into languages including Polish and Kurdish. The Driving Standards Agency supplied language voice overs for the theory part of the test and offered translators to speakers of less common languages including Hebrew and Ukrainian.
It has led to calls for the Government to ensure licences are not being handed to confused motorists who can’t read road signs in English. Drivers have to pass a practical test and answer 50 multiple-choice questions about the Highway Code and road safety to get a driving licence.
The theory part is available with voice overs in 21 languages, including English. Candidates can also pay for a translator. Figures published on the DSA website show 89,383 drivers used a non-English voice over last year, including 18,828 sitting their test in Urdu, 12,434 in Polish, 10,130 in Kurdish and 13 in Welsh. Of the 1,235 drivers who asked for a translator, 379 were quizzed in the Ethiopian language of Tigrinya, 25 in Hebrew and one in Ukrainian.
Hugh Bladon, of the Association of British Drivers, said: “If you are in this country and you want to be able to take the driving test then you should be able to cope with the language. The fact that so many people are now taking the opportunity to use a voice over or a translator means that they now have the confidence to take the test and earn a licence.”