Accessible Driveways: Obstacles and Solutions
Now you’re thinking, what can you possibly need to know about driveways?
You just pull in, get out of your car, and walk to the front door.
Not so fast my friends.
If you have any experience with someone who has limited physical abilities, you will know that each and every one of those steps I just mentioned of pulling into the driveway, getting out of the car and getting to the front door may require an abundance of effort if some basic structural and space requirements are not taken into consideration.
Okay, so the driver does the pulling into the driveway.
But wait, where in the driveway should the driver pull in? What’s the most ideal driveway situation?
The ideal driveway, according to Stanton Homes, should be 12 feet wide for maximum maneuverability.
Obviously that is not possible for those of us who live in the city. Then the most important thing to keep in mind is that there should at the very minimum be a place where all individuals can get out of the car with adequate space. For example, a curb cut that leads to the walkway.
Another solution which may be attainable for some people is to pave over a portion of the yard connecting to the driveway to widen the driveway. This obviously requires checking into the local building codes to ensure legality. If the driveway pulls all the way to the back of the home, you can always do this at the back entrance of the house to avoid an eye sore of concrete in the front of the home. This would then mean that, as opposed to using the front entrance, the back entrance of the home would be the ‘accessible’ entrance with all of the features mentioned in later articles for an accessible home entrance
Another key point to keep in mind is the surface material of the driveway. The recommended materials are asphalt or concrete which are smooth. This prevents a tripping hazard for those walking on the surface and a smoother ride/push for wheelchair users.
Sloped driveways are twofold. They can be a benefit if they lead directly to the walkway or front door as they help people avoid physically walking/riding up an unnecessary “hill”. But, they can also present as an obstacle if they are too steep as they can be a fall hazard (especially in rainy/icy weather), they can restrict visibility, and they can increase the time it takes to get from the car to the home which can be a safety concern if emergency medical help would ever be necessary.
As always, planning ahead is one of the determining factors to ensure that your home is as safe and comfortable for all situations. Planning in cases of emergency is therefore a priority and we must always keep that in mind.
Last but not least (actually one of the most important aspects to safety in all areas of the home) is lighting. To prevent a whole slew of safety concerns, adequate lighting is necessary wherever passengers and their drivers to get out of the car.
Lighting is actually something fun to consider as many of the options out there for adding lights to the landscape of your home are aesthetically pleasing and only add positively to the effect of a beautiful home at night.
Following are a few ideas for driveway lighting:
- Lamp Post
- Make sure that the light provided by the lamp post covers all of the areas outside the home that people walk through. If this is not the case and one post is just not cutting it, consider placement of a few lamp posts for maximal coverage.
- Pathway/Paver lights
- These are the lights that line the length of both sides of driveway providing light along the ground as opposed to light from above. Make sure to test the brightness of the lights you are considering to ensure that they provide adequate light as pathway lights can be very dim.
- Motion Sensor lights
- At this point in time most people are familiar with these lights and they are a nice option for having your driveway light up for you as you arrive. This also eliminates the “turn on the outdoor lights” item from your evening to do list, although most lights are on timers these days and will turn on automatically.’
That’s that for driveway safety; accessible driveways obstacles and solutions.
Quick memory quiz: What are the 4 components to a safe driveway?
- Surface material
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To safe and happy homes,
Golda, a licensed Occupational Therapist and Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS professional) was inspired to specialize in an area which she felt would increase her clients’ quality of life beyond typical therapy treatment sessions. Golda embraces the idea of increasing clients’ abilities to reside in their homes barrier-free as providing a level of quality of life which cannot be matched. Follow along with Golda on her journey of creating a comprehensive resource center for home accessibility modifications here at adapttostay.com.