Crashes involving fixed objects (trees, utility poles, bridge piers, etc.) along South Carolina roadsides account for 20% of all crashes and nearly 50% of all fatal crashes. The greatest contributor to fatal fixed object crashes in South Carolina is trees, costing $750 million each year.
Through funding from the South Carolina Department of Transportation, Clemson University researchers are developing a safe, accurate, and cost effective method of measuring and analyzing obstacle free areas, or clear zones, along our state roadways. In the past, this was done with survey equipment and required survey crews to work in the roadside environment. A new rotating laser measurement system allows researchers to capture complete 3D profiles of the roadway environment at regular operating speeds. The laser rotates 360° and the system takes 20,000 measurements samples per second, accurate within a few inches up to 50’. The system produces a spiraling tunnel of information about objects close to the van, and allows the determination of precise distances from the edge of the travel lane to the nearest roadside obstacle.