Abstract:Traffic incidents such as road accidents and vehicle breakdowns are a major source of travel uncertainty and delay, but the mechanism by which they cause heavy traffic is not fully understood. Traffic management controllers are tasked with routing repair and clean up crews to clear the incident and often have to do so under time pressure and with imperfect information. To aid their decision making and help them understand how past incidents affected traffic, we propose Traffic Origins, a simple method to visualize the impact road incidents have on congestion. Just before a traffic incident occurs, we mark the incident location with an expanding circle to uncover the underlying traffic flow map and when it ends, the circle recedes. This not only directs attention to upcoming events, but also allows us to observe the impact traffic incidents have on vehicle flow in the immediate vicinity and the cascading effect multiple incidents can have on a road network. We illustrate this technique using road incident and traffic flow data from Singapore.