Peligro — carretera cerrada. Ceda el paso. Paso a nivel. Adelantamiento prohibido. Prohibido el paso. Despacio. Sin salida. Sentido unico.
Know the meaning of any of these words or phrases? Even after two years of Spanish in high school, I had to look them up.
Danger — road closed. Yield. Road and railway crossing. No passing. No entry. Slow. Dead end. One way.
Surely if I were applying for a driver’s license in Mexico, I could take the exam in English and not have to worry about learning the meaning of these words — right? Wrong. Mexico doesn’t offer the exam in English.
How dare they! What is their legislature thinking? Are they a bunch of clowns cleaning up after the elephants in a Barnum and Bailey Circus?
Recently a major newspaper in Georgia compared those of us (myself included as the title of this column suggests) who voted in favor of SB 67 as just that — a bunch of clowns cleaning up after the elephants in a Barnum and Bailey Circus.
SB 67, introduced this past legislative session, would have required that written or oral examinations for a permanent Georgia driver’s license be administered in English while temporary license exams would continue to be offered in 14 other languages as they are now.
What a novel idea — if you’re going to drive on the roads of our state where the official language is English and where the road signs are in English, then you should be able to read English.
But wait, critics say — you can’t do that — that would be discriminatory. What about the 5,000 people per month who currently take the written test in another language — what are they to do? How will they drive to work, shuttle their children around or get to English classes?
Get to English classes? Duh, how about they get the English classes first then take the drivers license exam — another novel idea.
And wouldn’t making certain that potential permanent drivers are capable of reading English result in more illegal drivers on our roads since they would forego taking the exam and just drive anyway? Why would we want to make a law that people might break?
And wouldn’t this send a message to foreign countries who are considering investing in Georgia? Wouldn’t this be viewed as anti-immigration legislation and put the economic viability of our state in jeopardy? Surely they wouldn’t believe that we were trying to make our roads safer?
So what was the intent of SB 67 — an attempt to improve public safety on our roads or another example of anti-immigration legislation by lawmakers?
I really don’t know the answer to that question. While I’m certainly not naive enough to think that some legislators don’t harbor anti-immigration motives, I can only say that my motives were genuine and that I viewed the bill as a public safety issue and that’s why I voted for its passage.
As the father of three sons, I can still remember the day each of my sons drove off by themselves for the first time. My stomach was in knots. One thing I made certain of was that they knew how to read road signs. To this day, I still pray for their safe travel on the roads.
As a citizen legislator I feel a responsibility to help make our roads as safe as possible. That’s why I voted for SB 67 — not because I’m anti-immigrant or because I think that foreigners are bad drivers — but because our road signs are printed in English, and you should be able to read them in order to get a license.