An automated detection framework for multiple highway bottleneck activations

Tin T. Nguyen, Simeon C. Calvert, Hai L. Vu, Hans van Lint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Highway bottlenecks are responsible for the majority of traffic congestion. Although the problem of bottleneck detection is not new, contemporary methods have not solved the problem thoroughly with regards to bottleneck locations, activation time, and related congestion tracking. These elements are essential for identifying and characterizing a bottleneck. This paper proposes a comprehensive framework for detecting and extracting these features of highway bottlenecks from traffic data. We particularly focus on questions (i) whether a bottleneck is the primary source of congestion or (ii) whether it is activated due to congestion caused by another downstream bottleneck. The underlying principles of the proposed method include the detection of congestion (in spatio-temporal patterns of traffic congestion), and the detection of speed discontinuities in traffic data (since this is an important indicator of a bottleneck activation). The method is data-driven and automatic therefore can be easily applied to different highways and used to obtain meaningful statistics of existing bottlenecks. We have tested the method on simulated data and also demonstrated it on real data from a busy highway section in the Netherlands. The results suggest that the method is robust to different implementations, i.e. locations, of loop-detectors which measure traffic at discrete locations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5678-5692
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • active contour
  • adaptive smoothing method
  • bottleneck detection
  • Chan-Vese
  • congestion detection
  • Detectors
  • Highway bottleneck
  • logistic function.
  • Network topology
  • Roads
  • Smoothing methods
  • Time series analysis
  • Tin
  • Topology

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