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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Taking appointments might shorten driver-license wait

The Alabama Department of Public Safety admits it has a problem with long waiting lines for driver licenses. So the time has come to try something new.

"There are a number of factors, the age and size of many of the facilities that are used for testing, the efforts to place the examining offices throughout the state," said Dorris Teague, the department's spokeswoman. "That does stretch the number of examiners assigned to any given office."

About 140 examiners are assigned to 79 testing locations across Alabama, according to The Associated Press. But only 33 of these locations are open five days a week because of staffing limitations. Many examiners work at more than one location.

As a result, many applicants for driver licenses must wait hours for service.

Tennessee and Georgia are pointing the way to a better system.

Tennessee will soon shorten driver wait times for certain services by starting an appointment system. For example, people needing to take a road test will be able to choose their times online or by telephone.

Georgia already uses a similar system, and "our wait times are really improving," said Susan Sports, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

Ms. Teague said Alabama has no plans to move to a similar system, but it should make plans. When your resources aren't adequate to do a job in the way you've always done it, it's smart to find a new, more efficient way.

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