FMCSA gets tougher on language requirements

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that a driver who is unable to meet the language requirement set forth in 391.11(b)(2) may be placed out of service. Prior to the announcement, enforcement personnel would cite the driver, but not to place him out of service.

Under the new FMCSA policy, inspectors now are instructed to converse with the driver in English on a minimum of the following areas:

  • His origin and destination;
  • Record of duty status, on-duty time and driving time;
  • Driver’s license; and
  • Vehicle components and system regulated by FMCSA.
  • Mexico-domiciled carriers that operate exclusively in order commercial zones are exempt from the out-of-service order; the driver would be cited only and not put out of service.

    Inspectors are told that they must conduct a portion of the road inspection in English, specifically the driver interview. Drivers must respond appropriately in English to demonstrate proficiency; failure to respond appropriately to basic questions will result in an out-of-service violation.

    Inspectors are instructed to speak slowly, but naturally. They are not to rush through questions and may paraphrase in English.