Spatiotemporal clustering for the impact region caused by a traffic incident: an improved fuzzy C-means approach with guaranteed consistency

Zhenjie Zheng, Zhengli Wang, Xiqun Chen, Wei Ma, Bin Ran

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Traffic incidents disrupt the normal flow of vehicles and induce nonrecurrent traffic congestion. It has been well accepted that the shape of the spatiotemporal region impacted by a traffic incident should be consistent with the propagation of shockwaves. Although there has been a variety of approaches that attempt to estimate the impact region of traffic incidents, most of them are not capable of producing results with guaranteed consistency. In this research, we propose an improved fuzzy clustering approach that integrates the domain knowledge of shockwave theory for freeway incidents to address this issue, which is new to the literature. Compared to the general clustering approaches, our improved fuzzy clustering approach takes control of the clustering process by leveraging the directional propagation of shockwaves in the form of constraints, which can guarantee the consistency. In addition, unlike existing studies that employ discrete variables to distinguish traffic status in case of traffic incidents, the fuzzy clustering approach uses the continuous variable to indicate the incident impact on vehicle speed. This can help to reduce the information loss and estimate the impact region more accurately. Numerical experiments are conducted to evaluate the performance of our approach using both simulation and real data. Results show that our approach is able to guarantee that the shape of the impact region is consistent with the propagation of shockwaves and achieve higher accuracy of the estimated delay induced by the incident than the current state-of-the-art approach.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransportmetrica A: Transport Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • fuzzy C-means
  • impact region
  • propagation of shockwaves
  • Spatiotemporal clustering
  • traffic incident

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • General Engineering


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