The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Friday, June 03, 2005

On Drivers Who Don't Speak English 

I have no idea why this thought popped into my head in the shower... maybe my mind is still in California. Of course that still doesn't explain the thought, but I'll talk about it anyway. California, like some other states, doesn't require a driver to know English in order to get a license. In fact, if you walk into a California DMV and ask for a copy of the Driver's Handbook, you will find that there are shelves full of them in not only languages like Spanish and German, but also Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese. Need to take the written test? We can accommodate you there too. Most of the time when I see complaints about these policies, it usually goes along the line of:
  1. How much extra is it costing to print and maintain manuals in all those languages, or

  2. Why isn't English our official language damnit! (insert random remarks about bigotry here)
I have an entire different question though. Is it safe? Before you stop reading and call me a racist or a bigot... just follow with me for a second. When was the last time you saw a construction sign written in Vietnamese, Spanish or French? When you see a sign that says "Bridge Out Ahead"... do you see 30 other signs in various languages saying the same thing? What about signs along the curb that declare things like "No Parking - Loading Zone"? Sure they might get ticketed if someone can't read the sign and parks there anyway, but that also means a delivery truck is inconvenienced. Does anyone worry about this? Just a random thought from the shower.

Comments:

Ok, I’ll give it a shot:
When was the last time you saw a red, octagonal sign that said “yield”?
If I remember correctly, a portion of the written test (in WI) is on signs. I'm pretty sure there aren't any words on those signs either. I'm thinking it's safe enough.

  Posted at June 05, 2005 7:24 PM by Anonymous Anonymous  
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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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