Saturday, April 08, 2006

Does this concern anyone else but me?

I'm not getting pulled into the debate over immigration. Not for the moment anyway. My dad's mom (my grandmother for those needing clarification) came here from another country and had to go through the system, so I am not without an opinion here. But today is not about immigration. Today is about road safety. This discussion deals with driver's licenses.

Living and working in New York is different than most states. NYC is a very diverse city, especially the island of Manhattan. Every few years I get verification of this fact when I am forced to visit the DMV. Our NY State Department of Motor Vehicles is amazing for the sheer volume of license plates, licenses and learner's permits that it processes on a daily basis.

If you come to the NY DMV you'll see more people from different nations than you'd experience anywhere else in the world with the exception of the United Nations cafeteria. And, in order to be fair to all of those people who come to New York from different countries and want to drive a car here, the test is offered in several languages. You can take the NY State Driver's License Exam in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese (Mandarin & Cantonese), Korean, and Vietnamese.

Here's my concern. All the signs, the road signs from Staten Island north to Niagara Falls are in English and only in English.

Yeah, that all makes sense... Let's test people in their native language... a written test... with really no pressure... but when they hit the streets and they are behind the wheel of a 4000lb rolling hunk of steel, traveling at high speed, in traffic, surrounded by hundreds of others... and they need to make a split-second decision about turning, stopping, changing lanes, etc... The words on the signs are written in ENGLISH.


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