Steep Driveways Dangers and 3 Effective Solutions

It’s not uncommon for driveways in Melbourne to be built on uneven, hilly and possibly steep land. Unfortunately, although steep driveways are commonly built, not many are aware of the numerous hazards it poses. From losing grip in wet and cold weather, water damage and vehicle scrapping, many owners face a multitude of difficulties when using their steep driveways. 

If you’ve ever driven on steep slopes, you would have likely heard some screeching noises – the sound of your car scraping against the ground. Not only will you need to spend chunks of cash to fix your car, having cars with damaged parts can affect the overall safety of your vehicle. Steep driveways are also notorious slip hazards during heavy rains and in winter. Without proper gripping from the driveway and tyres, the angle of a steep driveway can result in unwanted movement and potential accidents. 

So, what can you do to make it safe? Our team of driveway experts have summarised 3 effective solutions for steep driveway problems. 

1.     Ensure you have the correct driveway gradient

Most vehicles will be able to traverse a driveway easily if there is a maximum driveway gradient range of 5–8% for commercial vehicles and 1–15% for other vehicles. To calculate the grade of your driveway, you would need to divide its rise by its length.

In most cases, despite having driveways well within the recommended grade ranges, damages to vehicles usually occur at the top and bottom of driveways where the change in grade is substantial. To combat this, installing transition gradients at the top and bottom of your driveway can help increase the ground clearance for vehicles. A common rule of thumb is to ensure the change in gradient does not exceed 12%. Another effective way to improve your driveway gradient is to curve your driveway or use a zig-zag driveway method. Both methods add length to the driveway which allows vehicles to enter and exit at better angles. 

2.     Improve your driveway grip

Having a steep driveway means going up or down and requires more speed control as gravitational pull can affect how quickly your car moves. Relying entirely on your vehicle and tyres can be risky as brakes can malfunction and tyres eventually wear out. As such, having a driveway with decent traction and grip is essential, especially for heavy vehicles.

The most obvious way to improve your driveway grip is by picking the most suitable driveway surface. Here’s a quick comparison of different materials and their effectiveness for steep driveways:

  • Concrete – Although a popular choice for driveways in Melbourne, concrete driveways can be extremely dangerous for steep areas due to reduced grip from its smooth and clean texture.
  • Bricks or Gravel – Materials such as bricks or gravel offer more grip than concrete but can be more prone to movement and spreading. Under heavy traffic, these driveways can become uneven and lose its traction. 
  • Asphalt – Although it has far better grip than the above materials, asphalt can be difficult to lay and compact on angled slopes as you will need heavy machinery.

Now, if all the above materials don’t seem to work so well on steep driveways, what can you even use? Well, the best solution is actually to use a combination of a few things. Driveway professionals in Melbourne often recommend concrete driveways with exposed aggregate finishes. Exposed aggregate is a surfacing solution that adds texture by exposing the internal structures of the concrete. It utilizes exposed stones and pebbles to create texture that improves traction and overall driveway durability. 

Exposed aggregate concrete with texture

3.     Adding driveway accessories

To further enhance the safety of your steep driveway, additional features can be added to your driveway. Having barriers added to the sides of a driveway can prevent a vehicle from slipping off a steep incline. Installing a driveway curb ramp can also help. Instead of transition gradients by modifying your driveway slope, a quicker and easier solution is to purchase pre-made ramps. Pre-made ramps can save you time installing as they wouldn’t require reshaping or repaving your driveway. However, it’s important to note that they are not a custom fit for your needs and can be pricey. 

Reshaping and texturing a driveway can be a very expensive project. Extensive planning is recommended to ensure any changes to your driveway works effectively for your needs and is sustainable as a long-term solution. In most cases, texturing your driveway is the quickest and most effective solution. At A Better Driveway, our team of dedicated driveway specialists can assist you in finding the best solution for your driveway. 

If you would like to get in touch, please fill out our contact form or call us on 03 9308 6112