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Parlez-vous camionneur?

Sun Advocate associate editor

Do you speak Trucker?

The question may sound funny but it is no joke. It has public safety implications that came to light earlier this month at the Peerless Port of Entry.

Jason Llewelyn, the county's public safety coordinator, told county commissioners last week that is was surprising how many truck drivers are not fluent in English.

Llewelyn and a few state safety officials had set up a 24-hour hazardous materials traffic flow survey at the port to get some idea of how much poisonous, flammable, explosive and otherwise harmful stuff is moving along the highway.

Of the 1,560 rigs surveyed, 208 were carrying some sort of hazardous material. The estimated total flow was about 5 million pounds.

Of some concern was the finding that 63 had no idea what they were carrying. Others may have known they were carrying something but did not know how much, he said.

While the survey questions dealt with the type and quantity of hazmats aboard, there was no checkmark on the list for "language spoken." Llewelyn told commissioners that maybe half of the truckers could speak fluent English.

The rest spoke a mix of foreign languages. Llewelyn said it might be a good idea to compile a data base of foreign language speakers in the county, so that dispatchers could contact them in case of an emergency involving a non-English speaker.

Commissioner Jae Potter agreed, and is working on the suggestion.

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