Road safety

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Road safety aims to prevent traffic accidents and reduce the consequences of accidents.

Road traffic safety is described in the road-vehicle-human system, among other things

With the help of so-called crash tests , the safety standards of the vehicles are technically checked under scientific conditions and continuously improved.

The traffic safety being concerned with ensuring responsible hazard-free traffic flow.

Road safety road users themselves contribute directly, indirectly, the legislature , science and research, road authorities , the police , the traffic education , the Association for Transport , the Transport Education , the schools , local authorities as construction authorities, as well as politics and the media.

Passive and active road safety

Importance of the transport infrastructure

The hard shoulder on motorways is not safe

The conception and condition of the transport infrastructure form the basis of passive safety. Road traffic safety is also determined by routing traffic and shifting traffic to other modes of transport, as well as by appropriate regulations and their monitoring. In terms of passive safety , it can be useful to spatially separate the various modes of transport and road users from one another and to assign them their own traffic routes ( lanes , cycle paths , pedestrian bridges , pedestrian tunnels ). The safety-related importance of a spatial separation of the means of transport and road users increases with increasing speed differences. The consequences of accidents can be reduced by designing the edges of the lane without dangerous obstacles and by ensuring the high quality of the emergency services . Active safety includes the appropriate choice of means of transport and also the use of driving performance on roads.

Significance in vehicle technology

Crash test with a dummy to determine the impact of an accident on people, 2010

In vehicle technology, the terms are defined as:

  • Active safety: the technical equipment of a vehicle to avoid accidents
  • Passive safety: the technical equipment level of a vehicle to mitigate the consequences of an accident; similar terms are crash safety , accident safety and occupant protection

In addition to good brakes and tires, active safety devices include driver assistance systems such as anti-lock braking systems , vehicle dynamics control and attention assistants, and passive crumple zones , seat belts , airbags and seat belt tensioners .

A fire extinguisher , which has not yet been prescribed in Germany for cars, can also be used to mitigate the consequences of an accident, in this case a vehicle fire . Automatic extinguishing systems are now mandatory in Formula 1 vehicles, for example.

Active safety can be determined by test drives , passive by simulation using the finite element method and crash tests . They can be classified separately in the accident statistics. An interaction between active and passive safety arises through risk compensation , i.e. an improvement in technical safety can lead to an increased willingness to take risks on the part of the driver ( rebound effect).

Significance in traffic education

Learning to actively secure oneself in traffic, 1942

In all safety-relevant areas that involve dangers to people, such as sports, technology, the household, and traffic, behavioral biology , risk psychology and pedagogy distinguish between measures with which the individual is passively protected by others and those through that he can actively influence.

In traffic education, “passive safety” understands personal, technical or organizational protective measures to avoid or reduce accidents. These are safety measures that benefit the individual road user without any action on their part, such as crash barriers for the driver or fluorescent clothing, sufficiently wide sidewalks (at least 2.50 meters), setting the maximum permitted speed, zebra crossings and traffic lights for pedestrians. "Active safety" must be designed by every road user on the basis of a traffic qualification. It grows out of initiative, acquired traffic skills , traffic-friendly behavior and independent action. For this purpose, traffic education provides suitable training programs and tests for pedestrians ( pedestrian diploma ), cyclists ( cycling test ) and motorized road users ( driver's licenses ).

Passive and active security measures flow together in an effective security concept. However, they have a different function:

Passive security, for example by separating traffic routes, is particularly important for young, old and disabled road users. In addition, however, we are working towards gradually active self-assurance from an early age . She tries to break down the widespread index finger mentality (“The other has to open his eyes!”, “The community must take further protective measures”, etc.). Self-assurance, which is based on personal responsibility, is considered to be the more effective, but also more demanding, safety measure because it challenges the individual.

There are conflicting decisions between the two safety concepts, for example when it comes to the safe way to school : While many parents prefer to entrust their children with their own vehicle transport (passivation of the children), traffic educators and teachers refer to the statistical realities and pedagogical reasons: the ability to walk to school independently and Regular active training in dealing with traffic has been proven to be the better alternative, because it is more stable in the long term, than keeping the children underage through refusal to learn. You can rely on accident statistics and the findings of risk research: According to the surveys by SA Warwitz, it is not the "daring" children who have been trained in their own daily traffic, but the "spared" children who have become incapacitated by external transport and who are kept passive at higher risk Accident. Typical characteristics of an "accident child" are expressed. The behavioral scientist Felix v. Cube explains the active gain in safety as a natural learning process, in which the unknown is transformed step by step into the familiar and thus more secure through your own action.

Development of road safety in Germany

Annual number of road traffic deaths in Germany

The graphic opposite shows the number of road traffic deaths in Germany. The number rose until 1970 with the increase in motorized traffic and has been falling since then, despite the multiplication of mileage. The immediate decline in 1973 and 1974 is due to the oil crisis . According to the Federal Statistical Office , the reasons for the long-term decline since 1970 are, for example: Traffic regulations, such as the introduction of helmet wearers for users of motorized two-wheelers, the obligation to wear seatbelts , the lowering of the maximum limit for the blood alcohol concentration, the improvement of the safety and technical equipment of the vehicles and better ones Road design, increased traffic control, more traffic controls, the establishment of pedestrian zones and cycle paths. Increased road safety education and awareness as well as improved medical first aid have also reduced the number of road deaths. The jump in 1990 is due to the change in the population due to reunification , but is also due to an initially increasing number of accidents.

The number of road fatalities then fell by 2010 to its lowest level since World War II, at 3,648. In 2011, for the first time since 1991, more people died on the streets, the number of those killed rose to 4,009. In the following year 2012, however, the number of fatalities fell below the figure of 2010, at 3,600. In 2013, the number of fatalities also fell, to 3 339 now. In 2014, however, the number of fatalities rose again 3,377 and in 2015 even to 3,459. The number of fatalities fell again in 2016, now to 3,206, which is 7.3% less than in 2015. In 2017, the number of fatalities fell to 3 180. However, this still means that almost 9 people per day die in road traffic. In 2018 the number of fatalities increased again by 95 (+ 3%) to 3,275. The number of fatal cyclists / pedelec riders (63 / + 16.5%) rose particularly sharply to 445 and the fatalities of motorcyclists on motorcycles with insurance license plates to 78 (+ 19 / 32.2%) and of motorcyclists on motorcycles with official license plates to 619 (+ 36 / + 6.2%). The number of fatalities in goods vehicles rose to 174 (+ 7 / + 4.2%). The number of those killed in passenger cars has now fallen to 1,424 (-10 / -07%.) The number of pedestrians killed also fell in 2018, to 458 (-25 / -5.2%) (from 2014 including pedestrians with sports In 2019, the number of road users killed fell to 3,046 (−7%).

The number of accidents with motorized bicycles ( pedelec accidents) has increased dramatically since 2014. In 2014, 39 out of 396 cyclists who were riding a pedelec died. In 2017, 68 of 382 people lost their lives with a pedelec. In 2018 this number rose again by 28 (32.6%). While the number of fatalities remained unchanged, the number of pedelic users killed increased by 29 (32.6%) in 2019.

Most road users die on rural roads outside of built-up areas.

In order to achieve the Federal Government's self-set goal of reducing the number of road deaths by 40% in the period from 2011 to 2020, transport policy efforts would have to be increased significantly so that the number of road fatalities would drop to 2405 by 2020.

In 2014, the number of fatalities per million inhabitants was highest in Saxony-Anhalt with 61 (previous year: Brandenburg with 69), followed by Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania with 58, Brandenburg and Lower Saxony with 57 each. In Germany, 2014 are per million inhabitants 42 people were killed in traffic. In 2015, the number of fatalities per million inhabitants was highest in Brandenburg (73), followed by Saxony-Anhalt (65), Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (58) and Thuringia (53). In 2016, the corresponding numbers of fatalities were highest in Saxony-Anhalt (59), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (55) and Lower Saxony (52). In 2017 the numbers were the highest in Brandenburg (59), Saxony-Anhalt (59) and Lower Saxony (51), in 2018 in Saxony-Anhalt (63), Brandenburg (57) and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (53). In 2019 there was a decrease in 15 of 16 federal states. Only in the federal state of Brandenburg did the number of fatalities increase (+ 1.1%).

Compared to the other EU member states, Germany was in 8th place in 2014, 6th in 2013, 8th in 2015 and 6th in 2016, 9th in 2017 and 9th in 2018 in 8th place.

In 2014 the number of road traffic accidents recorded by the police totaled 2.4 million (-0.3% compared to 2013), the number of accidents with personal injury was 302,435 (+ 3.9% compared to 2013). In 2015 there were 2.5 million accidents (+ 4.6% compared to the previous year), 305 659 (+1.1%) of them with personal injuries, the number of seriously injured people was 67 706 (± 0%) and the number of the slightly injured 325 726 (+1.2%). In 2016, there were 2,585,327 (+ 2.7%) road traffic accidents, 67,426 (−0.4%) people were seriously injured and 329,240 (+1.1%) were slightly injured. In 2017, the number of accidents recorded by the police rose to a total of 2,643,098 (+ 2.2%), and in 2018 this number fell to 2,636,468 (−0.3%). The number of seriously injured people fell to 66,513 (−1.4%) in 2017, but rose to 67,967 (+ 2.2%) in 2018, and the number of slightly injured persons was 323,799 (−1.7%) in 2017, and rose in 2018 328 051 (+1.3%). In 2019, the number of accidents recorded by the police was 2.7 million (+1.9%), the number of seriously injured 65,244 (-4%) and the number of slightly injured 318,986 (−2.8%).

In total, over 750,000 people have died in road traffic in Germany since 1950.

The Federal Highway Research Institute has determined the economic costs of road traffic accidents for the years 2005 to 2008. Accident costs in Germany amounted to approximately 31.5 billion euros in 2005; in the following two years, accident costs fluctuated slightly, in 2008 they amounted to 31 billion euros. According to a new study by the TU Dresden, which also determined the total follow-up costs of road traffic, the costs of road traffic accidents amount to around 38 billion euros per year.

The first nationwide accident statistics already showed 11,299 deaths and 310,511 injuries in 1953. In the government declaration of the then Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of October 20, 1953, the improvement of road safety was therefore mentioned for the first time as an important task in transport policy. In reality, other goals had priority. In later government declarations and government programs, road safety is in principle of no greater importance.

“The number of road users killed rose from 14,406 to 19,193 annually between 1960 and 1970!” For this reason, the political principle of setting up road safety programs and acting accordingly was developed in the 1970s. For example, the Federal Minister of Transport appointed an expert group to examine the best possible options for centralized accident research. In 1972 the results led to the expansion of the Federal Highway Research Institute to include the "Accident Research Area" as the central scientific body for accident and traffic safety research.

From 1920 "Autowachten" were created in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt a. M. and Magdeburg. In the course of 1924 also in Nuremberg, Chemnitz, Koblenz, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Koenigsberg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Zwickau and Karlsruhe. The goal was to go against the auto speeders front. But it was soon clear that other road users also had to behave more disciplined if accidents were to be avoided. The car watch eventually became traffic watch. As early as 1924, "sandwich men" appeared on the streets of Berlin , distributing leaflets with traffic rules for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to passers-by for the Deutsche Verkehrswacht , which was founded in Berlin on November 3, 1924. For decades the Deutsche Verkehrswacht u. a. with target group programs for more safety for children, adolescents, adults and seniors in road traffic. People should be made aware of more road safety in their behavior. The traffic watch magazine mobile and safe has also been providing educational tips and advice for more safety in road traffic since 1994.

In 1969 the German Road Safety Council e. V. (DVR) was founded as a non-profit association . The association's task is to promote measures to improve the safety of all road users. The DVR, in which ministries, authorities, the automotive industry, insurance companies, employers' liability insurance associations and associations are represented, is supposed to carry out the largely voluntary work of the Deutsche Verkehrswacht e. V. (DVW).

With the KMK recommendation of July 7, 1972 , "traffic instruction " came into the focus of a broader public as a comprehensive, compulsory educational mandate for schools and universities.

In 1973, the German Bundestag asked the federal government for the first time to regularly prepare an accident prevention report for road traffic (UVB) and to make this an instrument for updating the road safety strategy beyond retrospect. Since then, this has been presented to the German Bundestag every two years and documents both the development of road safety and the measures that have been implemented by the Federal Government and the organizations supported with federal funds.

At the end of 1973 an energy crisis, the first  oil crisis , surprised the western world in particular. In the area of ​​road traffic, the federal government at the time reacted on November 19 by issuing an ordinance that stipulated driving bans and speed limits for motor vehicles. The maximum speed allowed on motorways was 100 km / h, and now 80 km / h on country roads instead of 100 km / h.

On February 4, 1974, the incumbent Federal Minister of Transport, Lauritz Lauritzen , had a proposal drawn up to continue the “energy speed limit” for safety reasons. Taking into account the significantly reduced number and severity of accidents at a speed of 100 km / h and the regulations in neighboring countries, this proposal envisaged the introduction of a maximum speed limit of 120 km / h on motorways on an experimental basis. In the course of the deliberations, a general maximum speed of 130 km / h appeared to be acceptable to a majority in the Federal Council . However, this proposal was then rejected by the Federal Council with a narrow majority of just one vote due to the decisive influence of the then Prime Minister of the State of Schleswig-Holstein, Gerhard Stoltenberg, who was also confronted with Lauritzen as a challenger in the state election campaign. Instead, only an agreement was reached on a recommended speed of 130 km / h and individual attempts to introduce a speed limit of 130 km / h as the maximum permissible speed on selected routes.

The updated KMK recommendation of July 28, 1994 assigned teacher training and advanced training at universities a major role for a nationwide qualified traffic education , which should make the growing road users more responsible. In the area of advanced training , so-called “ institutes for traffic education” were given the task of ensuring that teachers who were already active were retained and that other interested teachers were trained through multiplier courses.

Some road safety developments over time

1903 Invention seat belt
1949 Development of the first dummies
1951 Introduction of technical monitoring for motor vehicles
Establishment of the medical-psychological examination (MPU)
1951 A patent application is filed for the safety passenger cell from Daimler-Benz .
1955 Introduction of training for a voluntary cycling test by the Austrian Red Cross Youth .
1956 First standard lap belt at Ford
Invention of three-point seat belt from Volvo
1957 Speed ​​limit to 50 km / h in urban areas after all speed limits were lifted in 1953
1959 First safety body in a Mercedes-Benz car
1967 Development of the airbag from Mercedes-Benz
1970 High point in the number of road deaths: 21,332
ADAC puts "Christoph 1" - the first rescue helicopter  - into service in Munich
1972 Speed ​​limit of 100 km / h on country roads
1972 KMK recommendation on compulsory traffic education from July 7, 1972
1973 0.8 per mille limit (until 1998)
Three-point seat belts on the front seats of all new cars.
Introduction of seatbelt compulsory - if seat belts are available
73/74 1. Oil crisis
1974 Recommended speed 130 km / h on the BAB
All new cars in Germany must be equipped with three-point seat belts for front seats; first car with airbag as standard in the USA.
1976 Introduction of the pedestrian diploma for school beginners in traffic education.

Helmets are mandatory for motorcyclists.
Seat belts are mandatory for cars in Germany

1978 Helmets are also compulsory for moped and moped drivers.
The ABS anti-lock braking system goes into series production.
New cars must have rear seat belts.
1980 Introduction of the warning money for breaches of the helmet obligation
The driver airbag has been available since around 1980.
1984 Introduction of mandatory seat belts with a fine
1985 Introduction of the helmet requirement for moped drivers
The passenger airbag is offered.
1986 Introduction of the tier
driving license for motorcycles Introduction of the driving license on trial for novice drivers
1988 The ABS anti-lock braking system is also going into series production on motorcycles;
motorcycles must always drive with the low beam switched on.
1991 ABS obligation for heavy commercial vehicles (CV)
1992 All Mercedes-Benz models come with a driver airbag and ABS as standard
1994 Side airbag for driver and front passenger introduced by Volvo
1994 Updated KMK recommendation of July 28, 1994 on traffic education for school traffic education, teacher training and advanced training
1995 Production of the first electronic stability program (ESP)
1995 The world's first belt tensioner with an integrated belt force limiter
1996 Introducing the first brake assist system (BAS)
establishment of Euro NCAP
1997 Abolition of the speed limit for small vans (sprinters), the number of vehicles involved in accidents is increasing by leaps and bounds
1998 Introduction of the 0.5 per mil limit.
Introduction of the first adaptive cruise control
1999 Seat belts are compulsory for new coaches
2001 Driving bans are threatened from as little as 0.5 per thousand
2005 Passive pedestrian protection measures are mandatory for all new types of passenger cars up to 2.5 t gross vehicle weight.
2006 Implementation of legal requirements for front protection systems ("bullbars") to protect outside road users
2009 Brake assist will become mandatory for all new types of passenger car.
Trucks with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3.5 t, which were registered for the first time from 2000, must be equipped with rear-view mirrors that reduce the blind spot .
2011 Mandatory introduction of ESP in passenger cars.
New vehicle types must be equipped with daytime running lights .
2012 Tire pressure monitoring systems in new types of cars
2013 Increased requirements for passive pedestrian protection measures for all new car types up to 2.5 t (from 2015: without mass restrictions)
2014 ESP obligation for all new trucks
Obligation to carry safety vests in cars
2015 New heavy commercial vehicles have to be equipped with predictive emergency braking and lane departure warning systems.
2016 All new motorcycle types (> 125 cm³) must be equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS).
2018 As of 4/2018, all new car models with EU type approval must be equipped with the eCall automatic emergency call system .
2018 From 11/2018, new commercial vehicles from 3.5 t gross vehicle weight must be equipped with an emergency braking system with which a speed reduction of at least 20 km / h (at 80 km / h) is achieved in front of a stationary obstacle.

Provisions for active participation in road traffic

Active participation in road traffic as a pedestrian , cyclist , vehicle or motor vehicle driver is regulated in laws and regulations. As a motor vehicle driver, the suitability must be proven in an examination after training in a driving school by a state-recognized driving instructor . Appropriate training courses and examinations are offered and recommended for pedestrians and cyclists, but they are not compulsory for driving. The school education or the basic imparting of knowledge and skills in dealing with traffic and traffic partners is the basis of behavior that can be influenced by humans with regard to traffic safety. The approval of people to drive vehicles in road traffic is subject to very strict requirements in Germany, see Driving License Ordinance . Road users are disciplined by threatening or imposing fines for traffic offenses and fines and ancillary fines for traffic offenses. Section 1 (1) of the German Road Traffic Act regulates the following for all road users: "Participation in road traffic requires constant caution and mutual consideration."

Safety and safety potential of individual modes of transport

Local transport in Thailand ( Bangkok Skytrain )

According to the Verkehrsclub Deutschland, a distance covered by bus and train is up to 40 times safer than using a car. The more people choose public transport when choosing a means of transport, the more accidents can be avoided. Since it is the task of politics to decide which means of transport should be promoted and how much, there are ways to improve road safety in the run-up to individual transport route planning.


According to the ADAC , the safety potential of vehicle technology in cars is far from being exhausted. The European crash test program Euro NCAP provides valuable information on what makes vehicles (safer). Active vehicle safety includes a good braking system , ABS and ESP (= Electronic Stability Control ) and good road holding with intact shock absorbers and good tires ( as much tread depth as possible , not too old, possibly winter tires ) and good vehicle lighting with daytime running lights (TFL) and clean windows. Other vehicle safety devices are, for example, traction control (ASR) and brake assist (BAS).

A balanced load distribution , the avoidance of overloading and the avoidance of visual and hearing impairments also contribute to safety.

Driver assistance systems can also be installed in the vehicles . They recognize certain dangers and warn of them (e.g. beep) and / or react to them independently.

Crumple zones , seat belts and airbags are essential elements of passive safety . Further examples are seat belt tensioners , safety passenger cells , child seats , safety steering columns and roll bars . The areas of impact of safety are accident research , biomechanics , safety assessment, computational and experimental simulation and safety measures .

Frontal crash test between Smart ForTwo (built in 2009) and Mercedes-Benz C 300 (built in 2009)

Another important step towards reducing the number of road accident victims is improving crash compatibility. Compatibility is understood to mean partner protection in the event of an accident between two vehicles. If the front of the truck were to be extended by an additional crumple zone of 60 centimeters, 12,000 people in the EU could be saved from serious or fatal injuries. Car occupants could then survive a frontal car-truck collision with a speed difference of up to 90 km / h.

Commercially available fire extinguishers can be used to prevent or fight vehicle fires . In Germany, carrying fire extinguishers has so far only been required for dangerous goods vehicles and buses, in Belgium and the Baltic states also for cars. It is recommended to keep six-kilogram extinguishers within reach of the driver in trucks and two-kilogram extinguishers in cars to install. Vehicles (trucks, buses and cars) could be equipped with automatic extinguishing systems. Films on the Internet show how to react correctly in the event of a vehicle fire.


Alcolocks are electronic ignition locks in which the driver can only ignite after he has "blown" (has blown his breath into a measuring device; this checks the alcohol concentration).

Driver safety training courses are special training courses for drivers of motor vehicles . They are usually held in a driving safety center . They used to be known as 'spin courses'.

At official racing events, the HANS system (Head and Neck Support) is required as personal protective equipment for the driver and front passenger in addition to a helmet and protective clothing .


In 2007, according to ADAC, almost 1,100 people were killed in more than 36,000 truck accidents resulting in personal injury. For safety reasons, more goods transport should be shifted to the rail, so the argumentation of the campaign "No Mega Trucks", which is directed against the so-called gigaliners and is supported by the Association of European Automobile Clubs (EAC) and the Alliance pro Schiene . The transport of dangerous goods by truck is up to 40 times less safe than by rail.

In the case of trucks, too, the potential for improving road safety has not yet been exhausted because there are hardly any crumple zones. The standard installation of adaptive cruise control and the already planned obligation to equip vehicles with emergency braking, lane keeping assistants and electronic stability programs make an important contribution to safety . In order to reduce the problem of the " dead angle ", which occurs especially when trucks turn right, additional mirrors have been prescribed for vehicles of classes M (for passenger transport) and N (motor vehicles for freight transport) since 2009 for vehicles with initial registration from 2000. Since this solution has proven to be inadequate, however, there are proposals at national and European level to introduce turning assistants . Accident Analysis Berlin GbR states: "The best active system, however, remains a suitably trained passenger who can relieve the driver in critical situations and who observes the areas that are difficult to see from the driver's position."

A yellow warning light is one of the mandatory items of equipment for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight over 3.5 t .


Responsible for the supervision of the railway company and compliance with the command , the Federal Railway Authority . Level crossings are particularly dangerous and must therefore be secured due to the intersection of different traffic systems and the potentially high consequences of accidents.


Safety vest "Action 1.50 meters away"

Important safety features on the bike are determined by the statutory provisions . Light-colored clothing and additional reflectors are useful in order to be seen better. If the reflectors are attached to moving parts such as spokes or legs, they are particularly easy to see. In some European countries a bicycle helmet is compulsory , in Finland for all cyclists, in Spain outside built-up areas and in the Czech Republic for cyclists under 18 years of age.

In addition to cycle paths, cycle lanes serve to increase the safety of cyclists.

Electric bikes

By far the largest number of electric bicycles that have become increasingly popular in recent years are so-called “ pedelecs ” with a market share of 98% (3.5 million). With the pedelec, support is provided by an electric motor up to 25 km / h. So far, helmets are not mandatory In 2017, 55 pedelec riders had died by September alone. The accident researchers of the insurer (GDV) suggest that pedelecs and other e-bikes should differ from other bicycles by their individual design or lighting pattern. Driver training should also be offered. Consistent use of bicycle helmets is recommended. In addition, it advocates technical equipment that provides support from the electric motor that is coupled to the power that can be exerted by the drivers themselves. Additional safety equipment, such as ABS, should be provided for S-Pedelecs. In some cases, the bicycle traffic facilities are in a state that does not allow safe progress.

A large insurance company is demanding a separate category in the accident statistics for the e-kick scooters / e-scooters that have been approved since June 2019 and for which motor vehicle liability insurance is mandatory. This is the only way that safety experts can identify typical accident patterns at an early stage and recommend countermeasures.


The risk of a fatal accident in a bus is lower than with any other means of road transport. The safety of buses is often discussed in public, however, because an accident with public transport is associated with a feeling of inability to control and the lack of opportunity for personal influence. In addition, individual accidents involving buses experience a particularly high level of media attention due to the high number of victims.

Motorized two-wheelers

In the official accident statistics, motorized two-wheelers are divided into motorcycles with insurance license plates (from 2014 including S-Pedelecs and three- and light four-wheeled vehicles) and motorcycles with official license plates (from 2014 with three- and heavy four-wheeled vehicles). Active participation in motorized road traffic usually begins from the age of 15 (initially with mopeds). The users of motorized two-wheelers, like pedestrians and cyclists, are so-called “weaker road users”. In 2009, 50,284 users of motorized two-wheelers had an accident, 749 of them were killed and 13,397 seriously injured. 39 users of motorized two-wheelers killed in 2009 were 15 to 17 years old. The total number of fatalities was 674 in 2014, and 697 in 2018.


People mostly walk on two legs from the age of 15 months, which is often longer possible for them than any other type of road participation. People walking on foot only endanger other road users if they carelessly break into their traffic areas or overlap the traffic areas. The traffic area for those walking is the sidewalk. Traffic areas overlap at intersections, crossings or generally in urban space. In contrast to the very low risk potential posed by pedestrians, pedestrians are very much endangered by other types of traffic. To change that, so-called pedestrian checks are carried out in the state of Baden-Württemberg, for example. Here, 15 municipalities are examined with regard to their barrier-free pedestrian infrastructure such as the width of the sidewalk, legal and illegal sidewalk parking, legal and illegal cycling on sidewalks, crossing aids, intersection design and route guidance. In addition, it is ascertained whether the equipping of the traffic areas with trees, benches, fountains and other design elements makes walking more comfortable.

Traffic and spatial planning

Measures to avoid traffic such as the promotion of the regional economy or the commitment to the “city of short distances” can have a very positive effect on traffic safety.

When designing traffic routes, there are numerous ways to create more security. If the human error of the user can be forgiven through an intelligent road design, the optimal state from the point of view of traffic safety has been reached. By using road safety audits, deficits in planning and the condition of roads can be systematically identified. In relation to the trans-European road network, from December 2010 the “Safety Management for Road Infrastructure” according to Directive 2008/96 / EC must be applied. The risk management provides methods for the systematic identification of the hazards and the cost-benefit analysis. Road safety also includes protective measures at the edges of the lane.

The road traffic authorities are already requested by the administrative regulation for the road traffic regulations (VwV-StVO) to hold regular traffic shows. The standard traffic show should take place every two years. Details are regulated in the information sheet for the implementation of traffic shows MDV R2 (FSGV No. 389). However, these traffic shows are only operated infrequently.

The unobstructed design of the road edges and the use of vehicle restraint systems reduce the consequences of road accidents when leaving the lane. For many years, over 20% of the people killed in traffic on German roads have lost their lives in connection with a collision with trees. In later years the proportion fell slightly, most recently to 17% in 2017, but in some federal states the percentage was still extremely high (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: 40%, Brandenburg: 35%, Lower Saxony: 25%). Since the introduction of corresponding statistics in 1995 up to and including 2017, a total of 28,090 people have died in tree accidents.

With consistent application of the "Recommendations for protection against accidents with impact on trees (ESAB)", such accidents with fatal results could be avoided.

At the 2015 Verkehrsgerichtstag in Goslar, experts called for the maximum speed to be limited to 80 km / h on narrow country roads (streets that are less than six meters wide) . Overall, almost two thirds of the fatalities are attributable to accidents that occur on country roads.

Serious accident with impact on a street tree

The German Road Safety Council (DVR) passed a resolution on May 24, 2016 on the basis of a recommendation by the Transport Technology Executive Committee to combat tree accidents on rural roads. To combat tree accidents, the DVR recommends in detail:

  • The side spaces of country roads should preferably be kept free of all obstacles. This also applies to the planting of trees.
  • According to the guidelines for passive protection on roads by vehicle restraint systems (RPS), trees may only be replanted outside the critical distance to the edge of the road. If this is deviated from in justified individual cases, they must be secured with passive protective devices during the planting.
  • If there is a conspicuous accident occurrence in the critical area of ​​existing trees, passive protective devices (underrun protection if required) must be set up or trees must be removed.
  • In avenues less than 7.50 meters from the edge of the road without passive protective devices, the maximum permissible speed should be limited to a maximum of 70 km / h and monitored accordingly. The increased dangers at the interfaces between different traffic systems (road, rail, bike, pedestrian) can be countered by special measures such as barrier systems , light signal systems and warning systems . An essential safety-promoting factor is a low speed level ( 30 km / h zone ) also in inner-city traffic , through which a reduction in the number of accidents and a significant reduction in the consequences of accidents can be achieved.

People & Society

Stickers with the motto “Strong in life without alcohol and drugs” are attached to all patrol cars of the Bavarian Police - an initiative of the Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior to improve road safety

When designing traffic, the different traffic needs, speeds of movement, degree of danger, behavior, etc. of the different types of traffic participants must be taken into account. Urban planning and traffic education make their contribution to developing and implementing appropriate programs and projects for the various user groups.

Traffic education, driving school training and public relations work by institutions involved in road safety work are therefore of great importance. Lack of knowledge of the rules, inattentiveness, negligence, comfort, power, malice, elbow behavior, insecurity and recklessness can significantly affect road safety.

Since human error cannot be completely ruled out, the road traffic system - as provided by the Vision Zero concept and master plan - must be designed to be forgiving. The implementation of Vision Zero means that no more road users are killed or seriously injured.

Security programs and campaigns

The previous German road safety programs and those of the EU Commission were inadequate because specific goals and time horizons were largely missing or were not made binding for the member states.

With the Make Roads Safe campaign , the UN launched a campaign for global road safety at the first UN Road Safety Conference in Moscow in November 2009. This campaign is designed for the period 2011-2020. The aim is to halve the number of road accidents predicted for 2020 from 1.9 million, i.e. to around 900,000. The number of injuries could be reduced by 50 million. About 90% of the cases occur in developing countries.

It is assumed that between the invention of the motor vehicle and 2010, over 40 million people have died in traffic. Every year between one million and 1.35 million people die in road traffic accidents around the world, and around 50 million people are injured in road traffic every year, 15 to 20 million of them seriously. Globally, road accidents kill more people than malaria. Road traffic accidents worldwide kill 260,000 children under the age of 18 every year, making these accidents the main cause of deaths among young people, according to the UN.

In July 2010 the EU Commission published “Guidelines for Policy in the Field of Road Safety 2011–2020. In the EU, 35,000 people died on the streets in 2009 and 1.7 million were injured. The number of fatalities per million inhabitants in 2010 averaged 61 in the EU, 45 in Germany, 28 in Sweden, 31 in the UK and 32 in the Netherlands, in the eastern Member States the risks were in Greece with 112 fatalities and 111 in Romania , the largest with 102 in Bulgaria and Poland. ”The EU Commission has also set itself the goal of halving the number of road fatalities in the next 10 years. However, the European Road Safety Council (ETSC) criticizes the lack of measurable specifications for upcoming tasks. Important fields of action are also not taken into account or are neglected - such as the protection of pedestrians and cyclists. The ETSC issues statements on EU transport policy every year, and a road safety manifesto was published for the 2014 elections to the EU Parliament. 2014 was a bad year for road safety according to the ETSC. Road traffic accidents killed 25,845 people in the EU28. Compared to 26,609 in the previous year, this means a decrease of only 0.6%. However, in order to achieve the targets set for 2020, the decrease in the number of fatalities would have to be at least 6.7% annually.

In 2017, 25,300 people were killed in road accidents on EU roads. Although this is a decrease of 20 percent compared to 2010, the EU target of halving the number of fatalities by 2020 will not be achieved. According to the EU Commission, road traffic accidents result in socio-economic costs of 120 billion euros annually for society.

On the basis of the ministerial declaration of March 2017, the Commission presented proposals to improve safe mobility (Communication COM / 2018/293 final). New vehicle models of passenger cars must therefore be equipped with advanced safety systems such as emergency brake assistants and lane keeping assistants. In addition, devices for pedestrian and cyclist detection are to be prescribed for trucks (see also turning assistant ) [proposal for a regulation COM / 2018/286 final - 2018/0145 (COD)]. According to the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), it is to be expected that the mandatory installation of turning assistants at European level will not take place until 2022 for all new vehicle types and from 2024 for all new vehicles. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has launched a funding program for the installation of turning assistants, for which applications can be submitted to the Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG) from January 21, 2019.

The Member States are also to be supported in the systematic identification of dangerous road sections and in the targeted orientation of investments [proposal for a directive COM / 2018/274 final - 2018/0129 (COD)]. The guideline (RL 2008/96 / EG) is to be extended to the effect that the safety management for the road traffic infrastructure is not only to be applied to the trans-European transport network (TEN-V), but in the future all main roads and other roads supported by the EU are to be included in the safety management are to be included. According to the EU Commission, the implementation of this regulation and the implementation of the amended directive could save up to 10 5,000 lives and prevent almost 60,000 serious injuries in the member states in the period 2020–2030. The number of those killed and seriously injured is expected to drop to almost zero by 2050.

In June 2019 the EU Commission published a new framework plan for road safety in the European Union for the period 2021-2030 with the next steps towards "Vision Zero". This working paper for those responsible states that the target reduction in the number of accident victims from 31,500 in 2010 to 15,750 in 2020 will not be achieved. In 2018, the number of road fatalities in the EU was 25,100 and the number of seriously injured people was 135,000. The goal of reducing the number of accident victims to zero by 2050 is maintained. By 2030, the number of fatalities and now the number of seriously injured people is to be reduced by 50% from the level in 2020. The master plan also points out that, according to a new study, road traffic accidents in the EU result in annual costs of 280 billion euros.

In Germany, the previous "Program for more road safety" set up for the period from 2001 to 2010 was replaced in autumn 2011 by a new program that will run until 2020. In November 2010, the Scientific Advisory Board at the Federal Minister for Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) presented an overall concept with 40 recommendations on road safety by 2020. This concept of measures preceded the federal government's new program for more safety in road traffic, which was originally planned for publication in early 2011, and should therefore have been given special consideration. One of the central recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Board is the introduction of a speed limit of 130 km / h on motorways or a corresponding speed limit that is uniform in Europe. From a scientific point of view, diverse negative effects on road users, society and the environment are determined by driving at high speeds or without a speed limit of 130 km / h:

Accident severity increases disproportionately with increasing impact speed. - The possibilities for reactions and corrective maneuvers in the event of unforeseen events decrease with increasing speed and thus higher risks for rear-end and consequential accidents. - Higher risk of accidents when visibility is restricted (fog, night). - Higher risk of accidents when changing lanes, overtaking and when threading. - Higher risks due to the difference in speeds between trucks and cars. - Increased expansion and safety standards (lane width, radii, hard shoulder, etc.) for high design speeds and thus costs for investments and maintenance. - Higher energy consumption, pollutant emissions and noise. - Greater susceptibility to failure, impairment and performance. - Higher risks for foreign drivers. - Lower driving comfort and lower subjective feeling of safety of older and seldom driving road users.

The federal government's new program contains a comprehensive analysis and numerous recommendations; it is intended to initiate a total of 40 measures in the areas of human, infrastructure and vehicle technology. However, the aim is only to reduce the number of fatalities by 40% by 2020; it remains relatively non-binding due to the waiver of further specific targets and regulatory measures.

Even if the halving of the number of fatally accidental road users, as demanded by the Scientific Advisory Board, should succeed, based on the year 2010, around 30,000 people will probably still die in road traffic accidents in Germany by 2020.

Since young road users are disproportionately involved in road accidents, there are also road safety projects that expressly aim to target this target group, such as the "Guardian Angel Project" in the Gütersloh district, which is aimed at 16 to 24-year-old road users and is already involved have registered over 12,500 Guardian Angels. According to an accompanying study by the University of Duisburg-Essen, the project led to a 20% reduction in the number of accidents in the target group and was awarded the (North Rhine-Westphalian) State Prize for Internal Security. The internationally widespread Karlsruhe model of traffic education from children addresses the particularly endangered group of school beginners with its learning programs such as the Karlsruhe 12-step program and its interdisciplinary projects such as the school route game or the pedestrian diploma. It was awarded a science prize by the wife of the Federal President.

In 1983, the Deutsche Bundespost joined the campaign for more safety for children in road traffic by issuing its own “Child and Road Traffic” stamp.

In principle, it makes a positive contribution to road safety: attentive, anticipatory and steady driving, serenity, thinking for others, renouncing elbow behavior and complying with traffic rules. This includes maintaining appropriate distances, especially from pedestrians and cyclists, for your own safety, also from trucks.

In the event of accidents, breakdowns or other important reasons, the hazard warning lights of the vehicles must be switched on and warning triangles must be set up at sufficient intervals . In some countries, safety vests must be worn when leaving vehicles outside built -up areas. In Germany, until July 1, 2014, this only applied to drivers and permanent passengers of commercial vehicles. Since July 1, 2014, drivers have to carry safety vests in all cars registered in Germany, as well as co-drivers if they are regularly insured.

Extreme driving situations (sudden braking or swerving) can overwhelm drivers with years of experience. The correct behavior in such situations can be learned in driving technique centers (through hazard training).

Accident data memories (UDS), also known as black boxes , make it possible to obtain more precise information about the processes in the event of an accident, which can be important for increasing road safety.

Activities of the DVR and the ETSC

At the national level, the German Road Safety Council (DVR) in particular issues regular statements on road safety in Germany and also submits its own proposals. In 2013 the DVR presented "Top Demands of the DVR on Road Safety", in 2014 the position paper "Combating tree accidents on rural roads", in 2018 the "DVR / DVW work program 2019" and, as every year, a press release with proposed measures for the publication of the annual official accident statistics.

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) is similarly active at the EU level. In June 2019 the ETSC published the “13th Road Safety Performance Index Report: Ranking EU Progress on Road Safety”, on July 10th “Road Safety Priorities for the EU 2020-2030, Briefing for the new European Parliament” and also in July "Briefing Road Safety Priorities for the EU in 2019, Memorandum to the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union".

Speed ​​limit

Limiting and reducing the permitted speeds is an effective way of reducing traffic accidents. In its PIN Flash Report 36, the ETSC concludes that 2 100 lives could be saved if the average speed on all roads in the EU were only reduced by 1 km / h. The speed is therefore also the greatest of all known risk factors. On the roads of the EU there are speed limits of 70 km / h (Belgium / Flanders and Sweden) to 100 km / h (Austria, Germany, Ireland and Great Britain). In local areas the speed limit in almost all member states is 50 km / h.

General speed limits apply on all motorways in the EU, with the exception of Germany. In Germany, the recommended speed for cars and motorcycles is only 130 km / h. According to a study by the Federal Highway Research Institute in 2015, speed limits of 130 km / h or less (mostly 120 or 100 km / h) applied to about 30% of federal motorways. So far, the ADAC has been one of the most vehement critics of general speeds on federal motorways. A few days before the 58th traffic court day in Goslar (January 29th to 31st, 2020) the ADAC Vice President, Gerhard Hillebrand, declared, however, that the ADAC was "no longer fundamentally" against a speed limit on motorways.

Traffic monitoring

The traffic monitoring includes preventive and repressive activities in the transport area, which serve also improving road safety. Traffic monitoring belongs to the spectrum of tasks of the police and other traffic authorities.

Rescue services

Traffic accident with a seriously injured person on highway 261 in the Pinneberg district

Ultimately, the quality of the rescue service also has an impact on reducing the consequences of accidents . The Björn-Steiger-Stiftung e. V. has made a major contribution to improving the rescue service. The more people regularly refresh their basic knowledge of first aid , the better the chances of success in the rescue service. In road traffic, the exact location of the vehicle can be determined using satellite positioning using the eCall system and, after serious accidents, a telephone connection with an emergency call center can be established automatically.

Since most serious accidents occur outside the cities and built-up areas, short arrival times for the rescue service are particularly important. In the Road Traffic Accident Prevention Report 2008/2009, arrival times of the rescue service of 5 to 20 minutes (mean: 9 minutes, 95 percent auxiliary value: 18.4 minutes) and of the ground-based emergency doctor as 5 to 20 minutes (mean: 12.3 minutes , 95 percent auxiliary value: 26.6 minutes). This means that the arrival times, based on over 100,000 missions with an emergency doctor, are more than 5,000 missions beyond 26.6 minutes. The accident prevention report does not differentiate the arrival times by region.

Other institutions

See also


  • F. v. Cube: Dangerous Security. Behavioral risk. 2nd Edition. Stuttgart 1995.
  • A. Engeln: Risk motivation - a pedagogical-psychological study on motorcycling . Marburg 1995.
  • Evans Leonard: Traffic Safety . Bloomfield, Michigan 2004.
  • HG Hilse, W. Schneider: Traffic safety . Stuttgart 1995.
  • SA Warwitz: Traffic education from the child. Perceive-play-think-act. 6th edition. Baltmannsweiler 2009.
  • SA Warwitz: Children in the problem area of ​​school rush hour. In: thing-word-number. 86, 2007, pp. 52-60.
  • SA Warwitz: Are traffic accidents 'tragic' coincidences? In: thing-word-number. 102, 2009, pp. 42-50 and 64.
  • P. Itzen: Learn from traffic accidents? Death on German streets and the dreams of the 20th century. In: Zeithistorische Forschungen 14 (2017), pp. 511–525.

Web links

Wiktionary: traffic safety  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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