Good ol' Rocky Top

Driver license photos are not meant to be flattering. However, the "redesigned" Tennessee license I received today gives me a new reason to be ashamed to reveal my proof to legally cruise the highways.


Top: old license
Bottom: new license

One of the perks of turning thirty last month was getting to renew my driver license. I would be surprised if it worked the same in each state, but in Tennessee, we are required to renew our license every five years. I renewed online and received a letter from the Tennessee Department of Safety today. I had thought I would simply receive a sticker to apply to my existing license. Instead, I opened the package to reveal the new "redesigned" Tennessee driver license.

In my mind, there are three main reasons an item such as this would need to be redesigned.

1. Function - Simplify or improve usage, add functionality, or increase readability.
2. Form - Improve the general look and feel. Make it a better representative of the state.
3. Deter counterfeiting.

I am sad to say that this new license fails on all three counts. It disappoints me anytime I see a redesign take such a marked step backwards. Don't get me wrong, I don't think my old license was the pinnacle of good design. It was however better than the revision. I could at least stomach reaching into my wallet to remove it.

I was going to go through and pick this thing apart, but the problems are so many and so obvious that I will leave it you to assess. By the way, is it really so hard to scale a photo without stretching or smashing it? (sigh...)

mark, Aug 18 2005 9:39AM

yep...they done given you a case of the stretch head in the new one. it's an interested and i might add not needed way to solve a design challenge.

any idea how long you can renew using the same photo? i suspect by the time you hit fifty your face may have undergone some changes.

rusty, Aug 18 2005 7:23PM

Not sure how long you can renew with the same photo. I think for quite a while. I recently saw my mother's and she was still using the laminated version from the stone age with a sticker adhered to the back. The picture had to have been over ten years old.

Sandie, Aug 18 2005 10:18PM

Hmm. I wonder who decided to get rid of "ol' rocky top"? I think that the mountains are a much better signifer of the state than the rippling state flag and a green outline of Tennessee. Although the new design does inlcude a lil' red heart on your picture! Awww.

rusty, Aug 18 2005 10:54PM

I think the little red heart is supposed to signify that they can rip it still beating from my body should they find me and suspect that I might possibly be dead. You know, an organ donor thing. But who knows, as awful as the rest of it is, it could just mean that they looove that I renewed my driver license.