The Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA) launched a new initiative this week to educate visitors on the rules of the off-road.
Partnering with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the OBPA has introduced thousands of “Don’t Be a Clown, Air Down” stickers that will hopefully remind folks to air down their tires before hitting the beach, and to use 4WD vehicles only to cruise along the sand.
The idea stemmed from one of the OBPA’s regular meetings with the National Park Service (NPS) to find areas where the visitors’ experience of the National Seashore could potentially be improved.
“In our discussions, we zeroed in on the fact that a lot of inexperienced beach drivers get down here, and have difficulty driving in the sand. They get stuck, get frustrated, and end up having a bad day on the beach,” said OBPA Treasurer David Scarborough. “With a number of people coming down without experience, we thought that maybe there’s a lighthearted approach we can use to give suggestions to these new [beach drivers.]”
After bouncing around a few ideas, the OBPA board members came up with the catchy slogan “Don’t Be a Clown, Air Down,” which is prominently featured on the bright red oval decals, along with a reminder to air down to 18 psi or lower.
“Some people can get by without airing down, but more often than not, you’re going to get stuck,” said Scarborough. “And there were a little less than 40,000 beach driving permits sold last year, so there are a lot of opportunities to either get stuck, or to learn the best practices.”
The OBPA has initially produced 30,000 stickers, which have been distributed to local tackle stores all around the island. In addition, the stickers will be given out at Cape Hatteras National Seashore sites to visitors who purchase a beach driving permit.
“We hope that visitors will see the stickers on the back of someone’s truck, and will ask them about it,” said Scarborough. “There will be a lot of opportunities to spread the word.”
This isn’t the first time the OBPA has partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to provide services that help education the public on best beach practices. In 2017, the two groups joined forces, (along with representatives from the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association), to announce the launch of the “Pack it In, Pack it Out” program, which encourages visitors to leave nothing behind after their trip to the beach. The successful campaign featured signs at every beach access, as well as portable cards that were available at local shops and landmarks.
With this new effort that targets beach driving education, it is hoped that the catchy reminders will encourage folks to take a few precautionary steps before driving onto the sand.
“We were looking for ideas to improve the visitor experience this summer,” said Scarborough, “and this seemed like a great way to help [educate] the public.”