The Washington Drivers Manual has a glaring oversight - there is no chapter on how to drive on the beach, a narrow portion of which is state highway.

Following are a few suggested additions:

Rule number one is if your vehicle is two-wheel drive, don't drive on the beach. However, when you do venture out, stay on the approach until you get to the hard, wet sand. A common mistake is to take a shortcut from the approach to the beach, thereby getting hopelessly stuck less than 10 feet from a driveable surface.

Rule number two is if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, only drive where you would if you had 2WD. Once your wheels start to spin, 4WD just gets you buried that much faster.

Having violated rules number one and two, too many drivers feel that racing the engine will magically eject a car, pickup, SUV, RV, or any other V from the sand. It won't. Rule number three is once your tires spin, "Gun it and you've done it." Placing boards beneath the wheels after carefully digging beneath them and then driving to a more firm surface is the best way free of a sandy doom if you can't afford a $100 or more towing bill. A cellular telephone is also a handy device to get help when you're car is buried and the tide is fast-approaching.

OK, so let's assume you don't get stuck. At low tide the ocean is often quite far out and there may be acres of wet sand to drive on; however, all but the highest portion of that wet sand are considered clam beds and are illegal to drive on. Rule number four is to stay on the wet sand, but near the dry and you are legal and millions of crustaceans won't get crunched and you won't get pinched by law enforcement officers.

Rule number five is for cookies and donuts to stay in the picnic basket and not be carelessly cut on the beach by some fledgling race driver. Every year vehicles flip when inexperienced drivers turn too sharply on the unstable sand. And if you don't flip, the ruts you make could cause others to have an accident, especially if they aren't obeying the 25 mph speed limit.

While on the subject of courtesy and common sense, rule number six is that pedestrians must think of our 28-mile stretch of Long Beach Peninsula beach as a giant cross walk and be very aware of vehicles.

Rule number seven is that the 25 mph speed limit is only if conditions are safe. Night driving or fog, pouring rain, or areas congested with people or other vehicles all give cause to slow down even more.

Passenger safety is a concern. Recently two young people died in a crash and a third walked away with only scratches. He was the only person wearing a seatbelt. It is common to see children dangling their feet as they sit on a truck tailgate, not realizing one bump and they could be injured. Rule eight, wear a seatbelt.

Rule number nine is simply that the beach can be shared by people and vehicles. The flora, fauna, the beauty of the ocean and of sunbathers, the recreational pursuits that the mobility of driving a vehicle can open up are all dependent upon common sense and good manners of drivers and pedestrians, alike.

The final and most important rule is when visiting our wondrous beach, whether you are a local or a guest, a driver or a walker, don't ever let your manners or common sense be on vacation.

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