BY O.J. EARLY
Wait times at driver service centers across the state have decreased so far this year compared to last year, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
The average wait-time dropped from 34 minutes in 2012 to 31.5 minutes in 2013, the department said last week.
The report excludes reinstatement centers, such as the driver service center on Hal Henard Road. Still, the Greeneville site appears to have seen a decrease in wait times also.
"It seems wait-times have gotten even better for us," Kathy Scruggs, branch manager for the Hal Henard Road center, said Friday.
Scruggs added: "Overall, wait times are down in our area. But we are a reinstatement center, so some things are different."
Statewide, however, officials reported a small increase in wait-time from the first quarter of 2013 to the second quarter. The increase was just under two minutes.
According to the department, the decrease in wait time for the first six months happened even though the number of statewide transactions at driver service centers increased.
Driver license examiners served 621,405 customers from Jan. 1, 2012, through June 30, 2012. In the first six months of 2013, the number of customers grew to 626,211.
"We are monitoring these figures very closely," Commissioner Bill Gibbons said in a press release. "Reducing the wait time at our driver service centers is a priority, so when we experience an increase, we act immediately to identify the reasons."
Gibbons attributed the hike to an increase in handgun-carry permit applications, plus installation of new equipment at the centers.
New equipment and software is being installed at all driver service centers in Tennessee, a step toward a new way of issuing driver licenses, according to the news release.
Officials expect the new process to reduce wait-times, but the installation of the equipment will cause delays, according to the release.