Road traffic accident

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Classification according to ICD-10
V01-V89 Transport accidents
ICD-10 online (WHO version 2019)
Bus accident in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1997)
Traffic accident, Copenhagen (2005)
Fire service after a traffic accident, Moers (2009)
Horse trailer overturned in traffic accident, Ludwigsfeld (2011)

A road traffic accident (or short road accident ) is a loss event having causal involvement of road users in the road . Most road traffic accidents happen on public roads , paths and squares . Regulation is an important area of civil traffic law . Efforts to reduce the number of road traffic accidents are summarized under the term road safety . The term car accident is also used a little inaccurately, but often .


Roadster after a rollover
Cleaning up after a truck accident with dangerous goods on the highway
Traffic accident between car and motorcycle, Willich-Neersen (2014)

The jurisprudence defines a traffic accident as any sudden event that is causally related to road traffic and its dangers , causing personal injury or material damage that is not entirely insignificant . A traffic accident does not necessarily require the participation of a motor vehicle . Accidents involving pedestrians , inline skaters or even horses are also covered by this term. Collisions are not necessary, the causality in the actions of a road user in the traffic accident is sufficient. Personal injuries are always notifiable. According to current case law, the minimum limit for property damage is around 20 to 150 euros. The corresponding state decrees on accident recording usually do not have a de minimis limit, so that any reported damage event on public traffic that is related to the general dangers in road traffic is regarded as a traffic accident .

Depending on the road users involved, a distinction can be made between car accidents , motorcycle accidents , truck accidents , bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents , whereby in addition to a solo accident involving the respective road user, an accident with other parties involved is usually also referred to, e.g. a pedestrian accident with a car or a cyclist can be.

Causes of accidents

Risk of accidents from snow flurries caused by an Intercity , Oppenheim (2010)
Accident care by emergency doctor, ambulance service and police, Villach (2013)
Traffic accident with personal injury, Toronto (2015)

According to Warwitz, traffic accidents usually arise when several causal lines come together, at the intersection of a number of unfavorable circumstances and misconduct, whereby the causes are usually based on a mutual set of conditions that exacerbate the dangerous situation and ultimately make it uncontrollable. The human being is the decisive link in the chain of fatalities, in which he could intervene to prevent accidents or at least reduce damage by installing appropriate safety margins.

Traffic accidents can have different causes. In the event of serious consequences of an accident, accident reconstruction reports can be drawn up to determine the causes, which can be requested by the courts.

Traffic analytical reports (accident reconstruction reports ) are created according to a detailed order. This comes into question in the event of serious accidents. The payer is the main culprit or the commissioning law enforcement agency. The police in Germany only use the official expert or the average commissioner .

General causes

In most cases, the occurrence of an accident is based on violations of traffic rules, on an incorrect assessment of the traffic situation by at least one of those involved or on technical failure. Reasons for human failure are unwillingness to comply with the legal system, misunderstanding of dangerous situations and general weaknesses of character.

Accidents and the consequences of accidents can be avoided in particular through early traffic education, through improving the training of drivers, through hazard training, through traffic shifting, through traffic avoidance, through improvements in vehicle technology, road planning, checking and maintaining a good road condition including the defusing of the edges of the lane and monitoring avoided or reduced. Limiting and reducing the permissible speeds can also help prevent accidents and reduce the consequences of accidents.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening of many borders in Europe, the directions of the main traffic flows and the importance of the traffic axes changed, especially for Germany and other countries at the former Iron Curtain . The changed routes on motorways and federal highways with a west-east course had a dramatic effect, so that previously relatively low-traffic roads became accident-prone routes due to an increase in traffic density .

Main causes of accidents

The main causes of accidents result from the frequency of accidents according to the traffic accident statistics of the federal and state governments. The traffic monitoring measures are based on them .

The main causes of accidents according to the aforementioned traffic accident statistics are:

It is generally criticized that the main causes of accidents are only determined on the basis of traffic accident statistics and are only published on the Internet for accidents with personal injury. Only traffic accidents reported to the police are included in the statistics. The accidents recorded only with the settlement of property damage are not taken into account, as are numerous accidents with pedestrians or cyclists. The number of actual accidents is significantly higher, since many accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists, often despite personal injury, are not reported (unreported figures ).

The exact determination of the causes of the accident also depends on the quality of the traffic accident record. In many cases, the causes of accidents are not recognized or are incorrectly recognized; in particular, the recognition of technical defects as the cause of an accident requires specialist knowledge. Exact figures on the cause of the accident “technical defects” are not available. The Federal Statistical Office only reports this cause of accidents in the case of accidents with personal injury.


The accident is recorded by the responsible police station . Often that will fire brigade with the mission of technical assistance consulted. It often disconnects vehicle batteries , binds operating materials or even frees people trapped in the vehicle. Occasionally, other rescue workers are also on duty. The admission is secured by traffic safety posts .

In the event of serious accidents where the legal situation is unclear, the traffic accident service will record the accident . To clarify the fault, testimonies are usually recorded on the spot. The human ability to observe and memory is limited by psychological conditions. The content of a statement cannot be properly assessed without knowledge of these limits and without taking into account certain regularly occurring "failures".


The cause of the accident can be charged with a warning or a fine (usually for the main causes of the accident). The amount is based on the federal catalog of facts .

In the event of a traffic offense, a fine or imprisonment can also be considered. Negligent bodily harm in a traffic accident, intentionally causing a traffic accident or arranging a traffic accident (manipulated traffic accident) constitute a criminal offense in Germany ( Section 315 (3), Section 315b (3 ) StGB ). Likewise, unauthorized removal from the scene of the accident is Section 142 StGB (in Austria : hit-and-run, in Switzerland : unlawful behavior) punishable by law. By diplomatic immunity diplomats are protected from criminal, civil or administrative prosecution in a foreign state. Accompanying family members of diplomats are also granted immunity by the receiving state.

Reporting obligation according to BOKraft

Traffic accidents resulting in death or serious injuries must be reported to the traffic authorities in accordance with Section 6 No. 2 of the Ordinance on the Operation of Motor Vehicles in Passenger Transport (BOKraft) if the company is subject to the Passenger Transport Act (PBefG).


Solo accident after a blown tire due to collision with an obstacle next to the road, Mecklenburg (1930)

The accidents recorded by the police are statistically evaluated with regard to the type and consequences of the accident.

In general, one differentiates - in Austria - the following types of accidents :

  • Solo accident (driving accident) (accidents with only one participant, such as due to driving errors, technical defects, etc.)
  • Accident in one-way traffic (between two participants in the same direction of travel without turning traffic)
  • Accident in the oncoming traffic (such as cornering, Einbiege-, Kreuzen-, Pass-accident and accident in longitudinal traffic with oncoming road users and similar conflicts)
  • other accidents (with pedestrians, stationary traffic, traffic obstacles)

with the first three accounting for about 2/3 of all traffic accidents.

Typical actuarial classification according to the parties involved:

  • Collision of a vehicle with another vehicle or other road users
  • Collision of a vehicle with obstacles on the roadway ( accident caused by stationary traffic )
  • Leaving the road ( agreements accident , English run off road ) without colliding with other road users, including collisions with obstacles next to the roadway and crash of bridges and embankments

Further classifications are made, for example, according to the location of the accident (local area, open country, type of road), time (weekend, night-time accidents), road condition, type of casualty / injured person and similar statistical data or according to the road traffic regulations that were violated.

The German local accident investigation uses a special scheme to record the cause of the accident , the type of accident , the type of accident and the consequences of the accident .

Accidents as a result of switching off traffic lights at night

Intersections that are not very busy at night are often only controlled with a yellow flashing light from a certain time onwards (colloquially “the traffic light is switched off”). All signal transmitters are switched off on the road with right of way; in the secondary direction (recognizable by the signs “give way” or “stop”) the yellow light of the traffic light flashes. The risk of serious accidents then increases by around 25%; the economic damage is significantly higher than the saved electricity costs. Among other things, the accident research of the insurers (UDV) therefore considers switching off the traffic lights for reasons of road safety unjustifiable. The Landesbetrieb Straßen.NRW calculated in 2011 that switching off an intersection saves around 330 euros per year and switching off pedestrian traffic lights around 155 euros.

When traffic lights are switched to LED lights, the energy-saving effect becomes much less important.

Accident statistics

Accident statistics Germany

Official combination of signs of the German StVO in front of traffic accident sites
Rescue after an accident by rescue services and fire brigade (2006)
Warning sign after a pedestrian accident, Stuttgart (2006)

The number of road traffic accidents recorded by the police in Germany has increased almost annually since 2008. In 2020, however, with 2,245,078 such accidents, there was a significant decrease of 16.4% compared to the previous year (2019: 2,685,661 accidents), which is also due to an almost 11% lower mileage as a result of the corona pandemic .

The number of people killed has been falling sharply for 30 years. While 11,300 people were killed in traffic accidents in Germany in 1991, the number fell to 2,719 in 2020. Compared to the previous year, this was a decrease of 10.7% (2019: 3,046 people). The greatest decrease was seen in the group of car occupants (decrease by 14.2% to 1,170 people). The number of pedestrians killed fell by 9.8% to 376 people and the number of cyclists killed by 4.3% to 426 people.

The number of seriously injured people in Germany initially fell sharply after 1991 (131,093 people) (2009: 68,567 people), but did not change significantly in the 2010s. In 2020, the number fell to 57,983 people and thus by 11.1% compared to the previous year (2019: 65,244 people).

The number of slightly injured people in Germany rose after 1991 to a maximum of 411,577 people in 1999, then fell almost annually to a previous low of 308,550 people in 2010 and usually increased slightly in the following years. In 2020, the value fell significantly to a new low of 269,470 people, a decrease of 15.5% compared to the previous year.

The ratio of fatalities in road traffic to the number of motorized vehicles has fallen sharply in Germany since 1970. While 102.5 people were killed per 100,000 vehicles at the time, in 2017 it was considerably fewer with 5.5 people. The Federal Statistical Office assumes a variety of reasons for this development and names, among other things, the introduction of the maximum speed of 100 km / h on country roads, the stipulation of helmet , seat belt and child seat requirements and the lowering of the maximum limits for blood alcohol concentration . Vehicle technology has also improved. Road construction measures, the establishment of pedestrian zones and the further development of initial medical care are also named as reasons.

The economic costs of traffic accidents amounted to around 31 billion euros in 2008, in 2004 it was 30.9 billion euros and in 2003 32.2 billion euros. In 2004, personal injury, at 15.2 billion euros, was below property damage for the first time (15.7 billion euros). According to the automotive industry , this trend is to a large extent due to the further development of safety technologies such as ABS , the airbag and the ESP (electronic stability program). According to EU calculations, the economic damage caused by a fatality is around one million euros.

Some institutions conduct accident research . Traffic accidents are examined in order to determine typical causes and their specific consequences.

Accident statistics Austria

According to Statistics Austria, around 40,000 road traffic accidents with personal injury occurred in 2006, which is 2.5% fewer than in 2005. The number of injured people fell by 2.4% to around 52,000. 730 road users had fatal accidents on Austria's roads in 2006, 38 fewer than in 2005. This was the lowest result since the nationwide uniform traffic accident statistics began in 1961.

Alcohol has been shown to be a contributing cause in 2,579 road traffic accidents. 3565 people were injured. The number of alcohol accidents and the number of people injured fell accordingly compared to 2005 more than the respective total numbers. With 56 fatalities in alcohol accidents - one less than in 2005 - the proportion of the total number of road fatalities increased to 7.7%.

In 2006 around 16,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 had road accidents. This is 2% less than in 2005. The number of fatalities (164) fell by 13%. Road accidents are the most common cause of death for young people: 15- to 24-year-olds account for 31% of all injuries and 22% of all road fatalities, but only 12% of the population.

The number of injured children under the age of 15 has never been so low since 1961. 23 children were killed in traffic. Almost half of the injured children were passengers in a car (around 1500, 42%). The rate of secured children is rising steadily: in 2006, every 12th child who had an accident in a car was unsecured at the time of the accident - in the previous year, every 10th child.

Accident statistics European Union

Increasing road safety is also an aim of the European Union. In the "White Paper on Transport" from 2001, the EU Commission set the goal of halving the number of fatalities in road traffic by 2010. In 2010, 30,700 people were killed in road traffic in the member states of the EU. In relation to the inhabitants of all EU countries, this was an average of 61 people per million inhabitants. In Germany there were 45 people per million inhabitants. This puts Germany in fifth place within the EU, behind Sweden (28), Great Britain, the Netherlands and Malta. The risk was much greater in the eastern member states of the EU. It was largest in Greece (112) and Romania (111). In 2001, the base year of the EU target, the number of fatalities in road traffic in the 27 countries of today's EU was 54,300. In order to halve the target, the number of fatalities in 2010 should have fallen to around 27,000. However, the decline was below this target with 44% and 30,700 deaths. Germany also missed this target by 2%. In nine countries, in addition to five Eastern European countries, France, Luxembourg, Sweden and Spain have succeeded in reducing the number of road fatalities by half or more. In 2013, the EU-wide number of road deaths fell to 26,009, in 2014 to 25,845. However, according to the more recent EU targets of reducing the number of road casualties by 50% between 2010 and 2020, a decrease of 6.7% should have occurred instead of the 0.6% achieved. In order to still achieve the target, an annual decrease of 8% on average would have to be achieved over the next few years.

Claims from traffic accident victims


According to German law, claims after a traffic accident take precedence over § 7 and § 18 StVG . Depending on the respective causal contributions, liability quotas are usually established among those involved in the accident. In the case of the same causal contributions, both parties are liable in equal parts; in the case of predominant negligence, this party is usually liable with 80%, since the operational risk of a motor vehicle is taken into account at a flat rate of 20%. In the case of particularly serious breaches of duty of care or intent, the operational risk can also recede, so that the culpable party is solely liable. As part of the claim settlement, as a victim of a traffic accident, one has the right to the free choice of an expert who will assess the traffic accident damage . The injured party is not obliged to make use of the expert offered by the opposing insurance company, but must accept the additional assessment by the latter. The insurance of the person who caused the traffic accident must reimburse the costs for the involvement of an expert if the damage is not only minor. According to a current decision by the Federal Court of Justice , minor damage cannot be assumed if the repair costs are higher than € 715.00. Likewise, the injured party can have his vehicle repaired in a workshop of his choice. He does not have to be referred to a workshop recommended by the opposing insurance company. The injured party also has the right to hire a lawyer at any time after a traffic accident . This also applies to small amounts of damage or if there are apparently or actually no legal difficulties due to a clear liability situation. The jurisprudence justifies this with the principle of "equality of arms" with regard to the trained clerk of the insurance subject to regulation. A car repair shop is also authorized to assist a customer in choosing a lawyer.

The injured party is also free to fictitiously invoice the damage, as he can proceed with the amount of damage as he wishes. Without submitting a repair invoice, however, the injured party will only receive the fictitious damage amount minus sales tax in accordance with Section 249 (2) sentence 2 of the German Civil Code ( BGB) . In a new decision, the Federal Court of Justice has specified the principles for billing hourly rates in a brand-specific specialist workshop. If the vehicle is up to three years old, the injured party may in principle base his damage calculation on the usual hourly rates of a brand-specific specialist workshop, which an expert employed by him has determined as the value on the general regional market.

If people were injured in a traffic accident, those injured in this way are entitled, for example, to reimbursement of medical treatment costs, reasonable compensation for pain and suffering and compensation for loss of earnings. There is also a right to compensation in addition to the actual vehicle damage as well as to other items damaged or destroyed in the process.


According to Austrian law, typical claims after a traffic accident are: Compensation for damages (e.g. damage to the vehicle, contents, clothing), compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for grief and shock damage (in the event of accidental death), loss of earnings, treatment costs or damage compensation.

United Kingdom

According to the decision of the English Court of Appeal in the Nettleship v Weston case , the compensation claim of an injured passenger will be reduced by a flat rate of 20% if he gets into the car with a driver who is clearly unable to fully fulfill his duty of care, for example because he is inexperienced and due to this inexperience suffers damage. The same applies to passengers who do not buckle up or ride with a drunk.

See also


  • Bickenbach, Matthias, Stolzke, Michael: The speed factory. A fragmentary cultural history of the car accident . Kadmos, Berlin 2014.
  • Elmar Kramer: Accident advisor. What to do in the event of a traffic accident? 10th edition. Deutscher Anwaltverlag, Bonn 2004, ISBN 3-8240-0662-6 .
  • Clemens Niedenthal: accident. Portrait of an automotive moment. Jonas Verlag, Marburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89445-383-1 (from a cultural-historical perspective).
  • Arnold Odermatt : collision. Steidl Verlag, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-88243-866-5 (illustrated book by the Swiss police photographer with photos from the 1950s to 1970s).
  • Fucik, Hartl, Schlosser, Wielke (eds.): Handbook of traffic accidents, part 2, accident investigation and vehicle damage. MANZ-Verlag Vienna, 3rd edition. 2019, ISBN 978-3-214-13814-1 (standard work for experts, lawyers and interested parties).
  • Dieter Schipper, Dieter Ketzner, Bernd Krage: Traffic theory. Hilden 1997, ISBN 3-8011-0361-7 , p. 86.
  • Siegbert A. Warwitz: How does an accident happen ?. In: Ders. Traffic education from the child. 6th edition, Baltmannsweiler 2009, ISBN 978-3-8340-0563-2 , pp. 15-16.
  • Siegbert A. Warwitz: Are traffic accidents 'tragic' coincidences? In: Ding-Wort-Zahl 102 (2009), pp. 42–50 and p. 64.
  • Peter Itzen: Learn from traffic accidents? Death on German roads and the dreams of the 20th century. In: Zeithistorische Forschungen 14 (2017), pp. 511–525.

Web links

Commons : Traffic Accident  - Collection of Pictures, Videos and Audio Files
Wiktionary: traffic accident  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. BGHSt 8, 263 ff.
  2. Peter Hentzschel / Peter König / Peter Dauer, Straßenverkehrsrecht , 2015, § 1042 marginal number 24
  3. ^ Accident escape - minor limit ( Memento from April 5, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Higher Regional Court Nuremberg from January 24, 2007, Gz. 2 St OLG Ss 300/06
  4. ^ Siegbert A. Warwitz: How does an accident occur. In: Ders. Traffic education from the child . Baltmannsweiler 6th edition 2009, pp. 15-16.
  5. ^ Siegbert A. Warwitz: Are traffic accidents 'tragic' coincidences? In: thing-word-number. 102 (2009), pp. 42–50 and p. 64.
  6. Dieter Schipper, Dieter Ketzner, Bernd coll: Traffic teaching. Hilden 1997, ISBN 3-8011-0361-7 , p. 86.
  7. ^ Franz-Josef Sehr : Accident series and German unity . In: Florian Hessen . No. 3/1993 . Munkelt Verlag, 1993, ISSN  0936-5370 , p. 28-29 .
  8. Traffic accident statistics 2012 of the Federal Statistical Office
  9. BMI - Transport - Annual Statistics 2015
  10. Dieter Schipper, Dieter Ketzner, Bernd coll: Traffic teaching. Hilden 1997, ISBN 3-8011-0361-7 , p. 87.
  11. Federal Statistical Office (, accessed February 9, 2015
  12. Accident atlas of the Federal and State Statistical Offices , accessed on November 25, 2018
  13. Lecture by Heinz Hautzinger, 2007, in the Internet archive ( Memento from July 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 128 kB)
  14. Risk of accident: hidden defects in the car ( Memento from April 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Federal Statistical Office, Statistical Yearbook 2008, p. 439 (PDF)
  16. F. Sacher: Inadequate absorption of information as the cause of the accident. Traffic accident and vehicle technology, 6, 1993, p. 155.
  17. B. Wielke: Witness statements problematic, but indispensable. (PDF) in: Expert in Austria , Festschrift 2012, p. 445 ff; Ed .: M. Rant; ISBN 978-3-7073-2188-3 (PDF; 255 kB).
  18. Kevin Capellini: The wife of a US diplomat causes a fatal accident, claims immunity and escapes. In: . October 8, 2019, accessed October 9, 2019 .
  19. Original text by BOKraft - accessed on April 8, 2019
  20. cf. for example Statistics Austria : Catalog of Accident Types - Statistics of Road Traffic Accidents. (PDF) Valid from 2000
  21. Value for Austria, accident statistics 2007
  22. Michael Höppner, Stefan Hoepfner: Checklist for accidents with agreements. In: FGS EXPERTAS. Research and Planning Group City and Transport, accessed on March 20, 2010 .
  23. October 18, 2012 : Cities switch off traffic lights - more accidents
  24. City of Solingen: Conversion of traffic lights to LED lamps ( Memento from July 2, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  25. a b c d Federal Statistical Office: Statistics of road traffic accidents - Code 46241 . In: Website of the Federal Statistical Office . Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  26. Federal Statistical Office: Road traffic accidents by accident category, location . In: Website of the Federal Statistical Office . Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  27. a b Federal Statistical Office: The number of car occupants killed will continue to decline sharply in 2020. Press release No. 170 of April 7, 2021. In: website of the Federal Statistical Office . Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  28. a b Federal Statistical Office: Accidents and casualties in road traffic . In: Website of the Federal Statistical Office . Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  29. Federal Statistical Office (ed.): Accident development on German roads 2017. Wiesbaden 2017, p. 8.
  30. ^ Economic costs from road traffic accidents in Germany 2008. In: Research compact. the Federal Highway Research Institute No. 17 from 2010. ( Memento from July 30, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  31. Karl-Josef Höhenscheid, Martina Straube, Federal Highway Research Institute (ed.): Economic costs from road traffic accidents in Germany 2004 . Bergisch Gladbach 2005 ( online ( memento from July 30, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on April 15, 2010)
  32. Karl-Josef Höhenscheid, Martina Straube, Federal Highway Research Institute (Ed.): Economic costs from road traffic accidents in Germany 2003. Bergisch Gladbach 2004, ( Memento from July 30, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on April 24, 2016
  33. Quoted from A Question of Survival . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. January 16, 2007, p. V2 / 2.
  35. ^ Judgment of the Federal Court of Justice of November 30, 2004, Az. VI ZR 365/03.
  36. ^ BGH judgment of VI. Civil Senate of October 20, 2009, Az. VI ZR 53/09.
  37. ^ Froom v Butcher [1976] QB 286
  38. Owens v Brimmell [1977] QB 859