Planning is the most important step in designing a residential driveway for a person with physical disabilities. A driveway’s slope should be less than 15% in order to avoid the dangers of a steep incline. Curves in a driveway can lessen the impact of slope when a driveway must be placed in an area that is long and steep.
A driveway’s slope determines water drainage, and the accumulation of water on a driveway’s surface is dangerous to people with physical disabilities. Driveways can be designed like a crown so that water drains to the edges of soil and drainage channels, or is graded at an angle that directs water toward street sewers.
The slope between a driveway and an adjacent sidewalk and street is another critical consideration. The intersection between a driveway, sidewalk and street is a common source of accidents for people with mobility impairments. A level sidewalk space is essential to people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices for mobility.
A driveway needs to be wide enough to accommodate a van or other large vehicle that carries medical equipment. Additional width may be necessary when a power mobility device (e.g. wheelchair or scooter) is being loaded or unloaded. A wide “turn-around” area for your car at the top of a driveway will help to position your car next to the most accessible entrance to your home. If space or expenses make a wide “turn-around” impossible, the driveway should lead your car as near as possible to an accessible entrance to your home. Ideally, this entrance should offer shelter.
Practical considerations are a priority in the choice of a driveway surface for a person with physical disability. Textured surfaces can impede the use of assistive equipment or cause a fall, and these factors exclude the use of gravel, pavers, shells, previous concrete, grass, and brick. Asphalt and concrete are safe choices. Flat, resin bonded surfacing is also slip-resistant and durable.
People who install and maintain residential driveways range from trained masons to people who learned their trade on the job. Careful consideration should be given to experience that is validated by references. A background search should be considered. Protective safety equipment is always a priority.