Opinion Columns & Blogs

Donna Shelite: DMV is improving service

Unless you’re a 16-year-old going to get a driver’s license for the first time, most of us don’t exactly look forward to the once-every-six-years chore of visiting a driver’s licensing office.

My goal is to change that, and we are taking action to significantly improve your experience the next time you visit us.

For the past two summers, we have opened our doors for business on Mondays in our state’s busiest driver’s license offices to help with the increase of seasonal customers. Both years, more than 4,500 people have taken advantage of the additional summer hours. I’m pleased to announce that we will permanently offer Monday business hours in our largest offices starting next month.

This will be first time in almost 30 years that any state driver’s licensing offices have been open year-round on Mondays – and will add about 50 new days of service each year for our customers.

Next up is a pilot project this fall offering evening hours four nights a week in our Johnson County offices in Mission and Olathe. If this pilot is successful, we plan to make this permanent as well and expand evening hours to other large offices.

We’re also adding staff in our Andover, Mission and Olathe offices, and we soon will open a new office in Derby – giving the state’s second-largest county two driver’s licensing offices for the first time in a decade.

Because of increased population and customer traffic, we have expanded our offices in Olathe, Andover and Manhattan, moving out of cramped spaces where customers sometimes had to wait in lines outside in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The moves tripled the office space in Andover.

Another area we have focused on is improving the technology and processes. In six busy driver’s license offices, we have installed a line management tool that allows customers the choice of “getting in line” using their computers or cellphones.

Because they then have virtual tickets, customers don’t have to physically wait in the driver’s license office. Instead, they can run errands, work or do other activities. The system alerts them via text message as their turn for service approaches.

Further, driver’s licensing offices switched last year to a “photo first” process in which an applicant’s photo is taken at the start of the process, and one employee handles the transaction from start to finish. This eliminates the need to stand in multiple lines and increases the security of the licensing process, helping to cut down on identity fraud.

In addition to making the process more secure, the department last year began issuing an award-winning license design that makes Kansas driver’s licenses and identification cards among the hardest to forge in the country.

While we’ve made these improvements, we have only just begun our changes to provide the level of service we want to provide and that you expect.