Contributed by Jennifer Dawson
Shockingly, most children hit by cars are under five and injured at home in their own driveways, with a parent behind the wheel. Those tragic stories should serve as a wakeup call to the importance of adequate driveway safety for families, but similarly, as you age you may find that your driveway ought to meet the required standards set by the ADA., the Americans with Disabilities Act which was passed in 1990.
Driving and arriving safely
So what are the considerations you should take into account to assess whether your driveway is meeting your family’s demands, especially where health and safety are concerned? Perhaps you recently changed your car – many families now prefer an SUV style family car, but while many modern family cars come with additional safety features such as blind spot warning, forward collision warning, and automatic braking, those cars tend to also be larger and wider, a challenge for the available space in your driveway.
Your car size may be an important consideration but also changes to your physical ability such as pregnancy, juggling multiple kids or fitting a stroller alongside your rear doors for loading and unloading your precious cargo.
Driveway safety concerns
Apart from width, for which there are recommendations set out by the ADA, making sure a driveway can be accessed by people with disabilities such as wheelchair users is also a must. When renovating your driveway, factors such as slope, surface and visibility should be considered to make it accessible. Keeping driveway surfaces stable, firm and slip-resistant is a sensible guideline to follow, regardless of aesthetic concerns. You want everyone to get to your front door without the risk of slips or trips – including any visitors, be they enthusiastic children or elderly relatives.
The recommended slope of a safely accessible driveway in icy conditions should be 10% or less, in warmer climates up to 15% is acceptable. Reasonable visibility is also essential – keeping driveways free from visibility-obscuring hedges and foliage, well-lit and free from blind spots is worth keeping in mind, and it will also stand you in good stead should you come to sell your home or stay living in your house into your old age. After all, your driveway is the access point to your home, the first impression for visitors, and shouldn’t be an obstacle to navigate but an area of welcome and safety.
Playing it safe!
Establishing any play areas well away from your driveway should be a no-brainer, and keeping a physical barrier between the two if possible will add to your peace of mind. Many parents are sure they saw their kids playing in a safe spot before an avoidable accident happens, so it’s best to ensure that your driveway can’t be entered easily by unsupervised children. Communication is also key, ensuring your child and their carer knows you’re about to leave home and will be using the car.
Following these simple rules and considerations should ensure you and your loved ones safe navigation around your home for years to come.