Applying Triage at the Utah Driver License Division

Colby Oliverson News, Newsletters, Success Stories

In the past five years, the Utah Driver License Division has dramatically reduced average wait times for all of its 13 field offices—even with an average of 1,200 additional customers per month since the project began. How did the division achieve such exciting results? Simple—by applying the concept of triage to manage flow.


Triage is a concept that assigns a degree of urgency to determine the order or priority of treatment. It would be difficult to find a hospital emergency room that didn’t practice some form of triage. In fact, effective triage is a continual focus in emergency rooms to decrease patient wait times and overall length of stay.

Emergency room triage strategies focus on quickly identifying and separating patients into different areas based on the severity of their condition. These different areas are staffed by an assortment of emergency room personnel—nurses, medical assistants, physician assistants, x-ray technicians, and physicians. It is critical that all functions work on the same level of priority to protect the time of the physicians so they can maximize their time on acute cases.

The triage concept is just as important to business processes—it is the first key concept used to increase the flow and speed of work. An effective approach to triage increases each employee’s ability to focus on the work he or she is hired to do. Incoming work should be quickly assessed to determine if it could be quickly resolved or handled by other resources, thereby allowing employees to spend more time on their primary duty. Triage is also essential in determining the appropriate type of activity, treatment, or intervention that best fits the situation instead of treating every type of work input or customer the same.

Triage at the Utah Driver License Division 

Utilizing a queuing system, the field offices triage the type of service customers are seeking and customize service window availability based on the demand of each day. By implementing these changes, the division has significantly improved wait times, even while the number of customers seeking services increases monthly. 

In less than five years, the Utah Driver License Division has reduced the average wait time for all 13 field offices to five minutes, which is among the lowest wait times in the nation. The percentage of Driver License Division customers being served within 3 to 8 minutes has increased from 55 to 79 percent.

The data is impressive, but the real success is the improved experience for customers. Instead of spending hours in a long line, customers are served more efficiently and effectively. Congratulations to the Utah Driver License Division for achieving these outstanding results!

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