DDS| Driving Us Crazy

What costs Georgia economy nearly $200 million a year?
The DDS.

That’s the Georgia Department of Driver Services (formerly known as the DMV). They may have changed their name, but that won’t be enough to help them escape a serious image problem.

I’m venting, but we have a lot of March birthdays around the office. Three of the Money Matters team had to make trips to the DDS to get newly updated Georgia licenses with a star in the upper right corner. It requires more documentation than ever and a background check that will ensure you have no unpaid traffic violations in any of the 50 states.

I had an unpaid surcharge from 15 years ago in North Carolina. I paid the ticket way back when, but there was some $50 fee that remained. That fee never showed up. Not when I went to the DDS/DMV to get my first Georgia license 15 years ago, and not on any of the subsequent trips I’ve made to renew my license.

So, North Carolina got the $50 they were owed, and I finally got my license renewed on my second trip to the DDS, but something is amiss …and it’s costing us money. Lots of money.

On my (first) recent visit I waited for two-and-a-half hours in the middle of a workday, along with about 250 other people. Many of whom were missing work as well.

So I tried to come up with a dollar figure that represents how much time the slow moving DDS costs us. (Like I said, I had some time on my hands.)

I took the 250 people I saw in line and multiplied it by 3. I’m assuming the line turns over about three times a day, but that may be generous. That’s 750 people wasting at least two-and-a-half hours, five days a week. That’s 9,375 man/women hours wasted every week for 50 business weeks a year…for a grand total of 468,750 hours lost.

Let’s assume that the average worker is earning $50,000 a year or $25 an hour. Here’s the equation: $25 x 468,750 = $11,718,750.

Multiply that number by 16 Atlanta metro area counties and the number comes to $187.5 million. That’s not counting the time wasted in the other 138 less-populated counties!

What can DDS do better? Here are two ideas:

1. Increase the staff at the busiest locations, or implement a scheduling system. Or both. There’s a smartphone “app” that makes nearly everything on this planet faster or more efficient. Surely these two suggestions wouldn’t cost $187.5 million to implement.

2. Allow drivers to pre-screen themselves for renewal eligibility. This would cut down on multiple DDS trips.

My advice to anyone facing a license renewal:

1. Assume it will take at least a full week (in case you have to make two separate trips like I did). 
2. Avoid Tuesdays. Many DDS offices are closed on Sunday and Monday, so Tuesday can be a zoo. 
3. Avoid lunch hours. 
4. When you’re asked how long you want to renew for – five or eight years – always go with eight! You will pay a little more right now, but avoid the DDS for an extra 3 years. 

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highest, how would you rate your experience with the DDS? I’ll let you guess what score I give them.

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