A new bill sponsored by a retired trucker turned Nebraska senator requiring that driver’s exams be administered in English only has stirred up controversy.
Nebraska currently allows drivers to take exams in either English or Spanish, but the proposed bill would eliminate the Spanish option.
Senator: English Only Bill Is Designed To Increase Road Safety
Senator Dave Bloomfield, the bill’s sponsor, says that it is designed to make sure that drivers can read and understand road signs. He says that road safety depends on comprehension of English: “If you can’t read English, how can you read the signs on our roads?”
Bill’s Opponents List Numerous Criticisms
Latino American advocates have accused Bloomfield of racism. They also say that there is no studies that suggest that English speaking drivers are safer on the road. Current signage, they say, is designed with easy to understand shapes and colors to help drivers who are unfamiliar with English.
In an op-ed in the Lincoln Journal-Star, Nebraska Latino American Commission chair Adrian Sanchez argues: “Understanding the English language, while helpful, is not required to safely navigate public roads. While road condition signs also provide supplemental information, they are neither necessary nor essential for safe travel.”
Furthermore, according to the bill’s opponents, increasing barriers for non-English speakers to get properly licensed might just mean that more people drive illegally.