For Isla Vista residents, the beginning of 2003 marked an increased presence of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), as well as a related increase in traffic tickets.

According to CHP Public Affairs Officer Mark D’Arelli, the “stepped-up enforcement,” which began on the first of the month, is part of a statewide seatbelt taskforce enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on passengers without safety belts. The taskforce’s goal is to raise the seatbelt compliance rate in California from 91% in 2002 to 92% this year.

“Hopefully we can get everyone wearing seatbelts because it does reduce significantly the amount of [traffic related] deaths in the state,” D’Arelli said.

In I.V., officers primarily target the intersection at Embarcadero del Norte and Pardall Road, and are reportedly able to average 20 seatbelt tickets in one hour.

“We’re picking different high-traffic areas around the county where we can easily spot people not wearing their seatbelts,” D’Arelli said.

In 2001, the CHP issued 206,480 seatbelt tickets in California, along with 8,845 child safety seat citations.

This increased attention to seatbelt infractions has inadvertently resulted in a rise in traffic tickets given for other infractions as well, such as running stop signs and speeding.

“Writing seatbelt tickets in I.V. helps us to show our presence in I.V. because that’s our jurisdiction,” D’Arelli said, adding that the CHP’s added presence seems to reduce crime in general.