Date of Award

5-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Ogle, Jennifer H

Committee Member

Wayne , Sarasua A

Committee Member

Chowdhury , Mashrur A

Abstract

South Carolina has its share of motor vehicle crashes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for 2007, South Carolina was 4th in nation for rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people. Within South Carolina, run off road fixed object crashes account for 48\% of fatal crashes whereas these types of crashes count for only 21\% of fatal crashes nationally. Utility poles are only second to trees in fixed objects struck but they are intentionally placed mad made obstructions. This makes utility poles one of the most serious problems alongside South Carolina roadways. Over 5\% of the pole-related fixed object fatal crashes in the nation occurred in SC, yet we only represent just over 1\% of the licensed population in the US.
This research aims to qualitatively and quantitatively assess pole related crashes in South Carolina, develop a guiding document to aid in identifying problematic utility pole crash sites within South Carolina, and suggest suitable improvement countermeasure to increase safety of the serving demographic. SCDOT crash database for 2004, 2005 and 2006 were used to calculate different descriptive statistics for influencing factors related to pole crashes. Roadside slopes and obstacles were analysed using laser data from a prior study of run-off-road crashes in South Carolina.
The analysis revealed that the most influential factors in pole crashes were lack of proper light conditions, no use of restraining devices, speeding, probable causes like driver inattentiveness, driving under influence(DUI) and urban roads. Young male drivers below the age of 35 years were the most affected driver group. Relocating poles further away of the traveled way effectively reduces the number of crashes. Clear zone analysis revealed that lack of minimum clear zone is a major factor in utility pole related crashes.
The most effective treatment for improving roadside safety include placing utilities underground (the most expensive option) and relocating poles beyond the clear zone requirement. After looking at the benefit/cost analysis of several sites, most sites with ADT over 4,000 veh/day returned B/C ratio of 1.5 or better for relocation. Due to the cost of placing utilities underground, this option rarely produced gains for the study period.

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