In case you missed it, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles offered a bit of good news this month.

Starting in 2009, the agency plans to increase the number of due dates for motor vehicle registrations to 45, or about four dates each month.

The idea is that by having more deadlines, license branches will have shorter lines when renewals come due.

Under its current process, the agency has 19 due dates, when license branches typically fill up with car and truck owners who’ve waited until the last day before their tags expire to get renewals.

BMV Commissioner Ron Stiver said in a news conference this month that vehicle owners would be notified of their new due dates when they receive their 2008 renewal reminders.

Due dates still will be based on the driver’s surname, and if they change, they’ll fall later in the year. The state says no one will wind up with a due date that comes earlier than in the current system.

Most renewal dates now fall at the middle or end of the month during the first 10 months of the year. Beginning in 2009, they’ll generally fall on the 7th, 14th, 21st or 28th of each month, through Dec. 21.

The added due dates will lower the average number of registrations expiring on each date by more than half to about 160,000. The highest number expiring on any single day will fall to about 400,000 from the current 625,000.

That should go a long way toward shortening the lines at license branches across the state.

The state could shorten the lines further by convincing more motorists to take advantage of other ways to renewing their plates. As it now stands, about three-quarters of all registrations are renewed at license branches rather than online, through the mail or by other methods.

This is another in a series of steps aimed at making the state’s license branches more customer friendly. The bureau should be congratulated for its efforts.

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