Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Jennifer H. Ogle

Committee Member

Chair Dr. Wayne A. Sarasua

Committee Member

Dr. Bradley J. Putnam


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics shows that South Carolina is one of the state with the highest number of the motorcycle fatalities and the fatal crashes. South Carolina repealed its Universal Helmet Law in 1980 which might be one of the reason for the increment of crashes and fatalities in South Carolina. Head and facial injuries are main causes of death in case of motorcycle fatal crashes. Helmet use can save number of lives and reduce the head and facial injuries. The thesis focuses on the advantages of the helmet use and necessity of Universal Helmet Law in South Carolina. The crash data for South Carolina from 1975 to 2015 was collected from Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to identify the various factors affecting the likelihood of the helmet using the logistic regression. The socio-economic data for South Carolina from 2002 to 2012 was collected from US Census Bureau. The motorcycle crash data from 2002 to 2015 was obtained from the SCDOT database. The roadways for South Carolina was obtained from the RIMS database. The CPI (cost price index) data from Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor's Statistics and fatal crash data was used to identify the effectiveness of helmet use in South Carolina. The social media and newsfeed were collected from twitter and various news channel and word cloud was created to characterize the opponents and ad vocative's viewpoint. The results show that helmet use before the repeal of the Universal helmet law is three times more than after the repeal of the Universal helmet law. Also, the fatality trend from 1975 to 1980 is decreasing whereas the trend is increasing from 1981 to 2015. Among the various factors age, alcohol consumption and Universal helmet law are the significant factors in determining the likelihood of helmet use in South Carolina using the logistic regression. Universal Helmet Law is one of the major factor in determining the likelihood of helmet use. The total motorcycle crash data of South Carolina from 2013 to 2015 shows that the unhelmeted motorcyclists are twice the helmeted motorcyclists in the total motorcycle crashes. The percentage of helmeted motorcyclist with blood alcohol level >0.08 is five times less than the percentage of the unhelmeted motorcyclists. People with the higher college degree education are more likely to wear the helmet than the people with diploma. Higher household income motorcycle riders are more likely to wear the helmet than the motorcycle riders of lower household income are. Also, the freeways, minor arterial and local roads are more prone to the motorcycle crashes. Highways like Kings Highway, Cleo Chapman Highway and other highways that passes through the urban areas are more prone to the motorcycle crashes. Local roads around the Columbia city and the Greenville city have more chances of having the higher motorcycle crashes. The KDE and Kriging analysis shows that the hot spots vary with and without the normalization of crashes by population. Charleston, which is a hotspot without normalizing the crashes, changes to be cold spot when the crashes are normalized with the population of that area. The text analysis in the study shows that the opponents focus on having freedom of choosing their own safety. The proponents are more concerned about the public safety, which they support with the facts and researches. The reinstatement of Universal helmet law in South Carolina is particularly recommended. Various educational programs should be conducted to educate the people regarding the use and effectiveness of helmet. Enforcement should be done in the Highways and local roads that are prone to motorcycle crashes.



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