DMV iPad kiosks cutting wait times

Becky Campbell • Jul 12, 2012 at 10:37 AM

The dreaded wait at the DMV is a thing of the past for some people, particularly those wanting to renew their driver’s license or get a replacement.

It’s due to the addition of 72 iPad kiosks — the official name is ASSETS, automatic self-service electronic terminals — in 26 of the state’s Department of Safety driver’s license centers.

And as long as you know how to use the touch screen technology — and how many are waiting to have their photo taken — you can be in and out in a flash.

Tennessee Commissioner of Safety Bill Gibbons said the technology is just one piece of the puzzle in making the centers more efficient.

“A lot of citizens are frustrated at the amount of time they have to wait,” Gibbons said Wednesday. “We are working very hard to reduce that to no more than 20 minutes. Right now the average wait time is 33 minutes.”

Gibbons said the department has received positive feedback from people who use the kiosk.

“The reaction from the public so far has been very good. A lot of people are finding, if they go use an iPad to renew .... that shortens the wait time considerably. They can do that within a few minutes,” he said.

The kiosks can be used to renew a driver’s license, obtain a replacement license or pay reinstatement fees, according to Sandra Dischner, an examiner at the Washington County center.

“It’s good when they know how to use it. If you understand the technology, it’s wonderful,” Dischner said.

If users need assistance, employees at the center can assist them, she said.

David Sossamon, of Johnson City, had a few issues with the touchscreen, but Dischner guided him through and he still saved time.

“The line was very long and one of these came open,” he said, motioning to the kiosk. “It sounded good, but the screen is very sensitive.”

Dischner said the driver’s license center kiosk will now allow renewal of a commercial driver’s license or learner’s permits.

Another easy way to renew a driver’s license is at home on the Internet, Gibbons said, which reduces the wait time even more.

“We have about 40 percent who renew online. Our goal is to get that up to 60 percent,” he said.

The TDOS now sends postcards to people a month prior to when their license is up for renewal to remind them about the online process and to encourage that as long as they don’t need a new photo.

New photos for driver’s licenses are required at alternating renewals — or every 10 years.

According to Gibbons, the technology is so helpful the TDOS will install 40 stand-alone stations at secure locations, such as police departments and libraries throughout the state.

“It’s really state of the art. It can take a person’s photograph,” and will issue a temporary paper license. A permanent license with the driver’s photo will be mailed to them, he said.

The list of locations is still in the works, but will be complete soon. Those stand-alone units will go online in the fall, Gibbons said.

“Another thing we’re looking at is expanding our partnerships with county clerks,” offices to issue driver’s license, Gibbons said.

“We now have agreements with 40. Our goal is to expand that to at least 50,” in order to better serve citizens, he said.

Schools also help ease the burden of issuing learner’s permits, Gibbons said.

A partnership between the TDOS and school systems across the state allows driver’s education teachers to give the knowledge and skill test to their students in order to obtain a learner’s permit.

The iPad terminals cost $79,000 and were purchased to replace existing equipment due to be upgraded.

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