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Transport (abbreviated: Verk.) Is the change of location of people and material goods as well as of news , information , energy and water . Certain types of transport determine the form of movement ( transport ), objects ( entities ) and the transport system, e.g. B. road traffic , passenger traffic , freight traffic , communication traffic , individual traffic , means of transport or traffic route .

Bicycle traffic in Copenhagen
Road traffic in Berkeley, California
Rail transport in Innsbruck
Ship traffic in front of Hamburg
Air transport near London


In a traffic network , the objects are moved along edges or on routes of a traffic infrastructure .

The traffic system is considered from various traffic- scientific perspectives. The traffic engineering mainly adopts the technical side of the traffic in the view. The traffic Sociology explores the backgrounds of traffic under the heading of mobility: Traffic makes spatial mobility possible. The traffic psychology looks at the motives of Verkehrens and the behavior of road users. The traffic education is concerned with the rules of traffic, with its hazard potential, with the secure and compatible with each other in traffic life and the methods to achieve this. The transport geography deals with spatial references of traffic. The transport policy is a field of action of the state for the design of traffic. In Germany, traffic causes around a third of annual CO₂ emissions .


In the 19th century, the economic and technical differentiation of modes of transport began. They have been grouped into modes of transport according to their typical characteristics , such as B. the railroad (= set of all traffic systems and their components, the feature of which is the track guidance of the rail vehicles in the wheel-rail system, so driving in space, etc.). The transport systems were then also analyzed from a macroeconomic point of view. As before the consideration of an entire economy , the movement of all units of a delimited traffic system was the focus of interest. The set of all movements of rail vehicles was then called railway or rail traffic . The terms such as road traffic , air traffic , shipping traffic , news traffic or postal traffic were created analogously . In English, this meaning is found in the term “traffic”.


The type and volume of traffic are influenced by various factors. The development of the population , jobs and economic output are related to the development of traffic. The type of traffic is changing due to new technologies and business strategies. The way of life and tradition of the people are also important. The form of transport also depends on the availability of the means of transport and the transport infrastructure. The cost of overcoming the space also determines the volume of traffic.

The development of traffic has been closely linked to new technologies since industrialization . With trains , bicycles , automobiles and airplanes , traffic has changed dramatically. The future of transport also depends on new technologies. The decisive factor will be which drive technology will replace fossil raw materials in the automotive industry.

Social developments are constantly changing traffic. The globalization contributes to the increase of trade in and transport. Apparently, people who act more and more self-determined as a result of individualization want to lead their lives more actively, flexibly and mobile than before. New information and communication technologies also open up new options for action for traffic. It is questionable whether new types of communication will reduce traffic. Messages can also be transferred over the Internet , so fewer trips are necessary. However, additional traffic arises when goods are delivered after an online purchase. Overall, there are good arguments for the assumption that new forms of communication increase traffic.

Volume of traffic

Allocation of traffic performance to modes of transport
Ratio of traffic mode in passenger transport in Germany 2002.png
in German passenger traffic
Ratio of traffic mode in freight transport in Germany 2002.png
in German freight transport

In 2012, the volume of German passenger traffic was 68,878 million people. The transport performance (people * kilometers) was 1,134.2 billion person- kilometers .

In 2013, every German citizen covered an average of around 15,000 km per year, of which over 80% (approx. 12,000 km) was by car.

In 2012, there was a volume of 3,988.3 million tons of inland German freight traffic . The transport performance (tons * kilometers) was 633.2 billion ton kilometers.

The graphics on the right show how the transport performance in passenger / freight transport is divided among the individual modes of transport . The division of the routes, regardless of the route length, is shown in the modal split , the choice of means of transport, especially for passenger traffic.

From October 2015 to January 2018, a study examined how traffic is developing in Germany - especially against the background of increasing online trade .

Consequences and problems

Percentage of energy sources in traffic in Germany in 2006

Traffic always causes non-internalized costs, which as an external effect are not borne by the causers (the road users). There is broad consensus in transportation science to internalize these costs.

External costs arose very early on, but are methodologically complex to grasp, since effects such as noise , air quality , landscape consumption or traffic safety are sometimes still difficult to quantify. What is certain, however, is that despite all technical advances and efficiency increases, the cost of transport has increased massively due to its sharp rise. Most of the costs nowadays are due to road transport.

The traffic turnaround includes measures to counteract the negative consequences of traffic.

The relations between the market and the environment, the busy traffic ecology .

Occupancy of space

Cars and roads take up a lot of space. In the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, between 5% and 10% of the total land area was used by automobiles in the 1990s ; worldwide it was 1–2%. However, the transport infrastructure and thus the transport space cannot be expanded indefinitely, especially in cities, so that there must also be conflicts between flowing and stationary motor vehicle traffic and the demands of other modes of transport.

The construction of pedestrian zones and the design of car-free areas are an expression of this problem. They should relieve pedestrians of the space required by motorized traffic, which leads to a higher quality of stay. Another approach is to build multi-storey car parks or underground car parks that offer parking outside the street.

Environment and health

Motor vehicles pollute the environment with various air pollutants such as carbon monoxide , nitrogen oxides , soot particles , benzene , unburned hydrocarbons (see also volatile organic compounds ) and secondary products (e.g. ground-level ozone and fine dust ) as well as waste heat , abrasion from tires and wear parts, and remnants of windows that have been applied while driving detergents and lubricating oil losses. These emissions can be found as immissions in the air, washed out by precipitation in the water or deposited ( adsorbed ) on buildings or in the ground. Endangered plants, animals and polluted groundwater are just as negative as health problems. Although limit values ​​are still being exceeded, regulations have succeeded in technically reducing the concentration in the exhaust gas emissions for most pollutants . The road salt used to keep roads free of ice also indirectly damages the environment, especially the vegetation .

Energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from transport are particularly problematic . Around 20% of the carbon dioxide emissions in Germany are caused by the transport sector. In contrast to industry, households and the energy sector, the transport sector was hardly able to reduce emissions. In 2000, 1.81 billion tons of fuel were burned worldwide for transport purposes. In addition, around 164,000 people died prematurely in 2010 due to air pollution caused by land transport. In Germany, more than 6,900 people died of air pollution from land transport in the same year. These figures do not include premature deaths from pollutant emissions from shipping and aviation. A more recent study by the same lead author with updated figures comes to the conclusion that air pollution from road traffic in Germany causes 11,000 deaths each year, which could potentially be avoided. That number is 3.5 times the number of fatalities from accidents.

Environmental damage caused by motor vehicles can also result from soil compaction , sealing of areas, the fragmentation of habitats, consumption of green spaces through road construction and the loss of insects and other animals that collided with the vehicles in the ecological food chain .

Shipping also causes environmental damage. Air pollution in particular, in particular the increase in CO 2 , nitrogen oxide and fine dust content in the air, has been observed in international shipping for several years. As of 2018, this caused an estimated 400,000 premature deaths and around 14 million asthma illnesses in children worldwide. Even while some pollutant emissions from road traffic are generally declining (although not those of carbon dioxide), emissions from shipping continue to increase. Attempts are made to counteract this on the one hand by using environmentally friendly fuels instead of heavy fuel oil with a high concentration of sulfur and installing air filters, and on the other hand by considerably reducing the speed of travel ( slow steaming ) to avoid unnecessary CO 2 pollution and other emissions. The focus here is particularly on shortening senselessly long transport routes for container ships in Asia, such as unloading the ships onto trains in Mediterranean ports such as Trieste, Genoa or Venice, without additional transport around Spain and France to the connections of the European northern ports .


Noise occurs primarily as road traffic noise , rail traffic noise and aircraft noise . It is harmful to health, causing stress and insomnia. The risk of a heart attack increases significantly with noise. For these reasons, noise is already more harmful than classic air pollutants in many places. According to estimates by the European Environment Agency , 113 million people in Europe are affected by road noise at an unhealthy level. Those affected can often only avoid the noise at high cost or not at all. Soundproofing can take the form of soundproof windows, noise barriers and speed limits . Noise and traffic-related damage to the environment and people can be reduced by the turnaround in traffic . Major changes in mobility can be achieved, for example, by avoiding traffic and shifting traffic to bicycles, rails and local public transport . The electric mobility is quieter than internal combustion engines. The Federal Immission Control Act obliges the German municipalities to draw up noise reduction plans, but this is often not done for cost reasons.


Around 1.25 million people die each year in traffic accidents (as of 2015), which means that the number has remained roughly the same since 2007. In the individual countries around the world, however, large differences can be ascertained: While the number of road fatalities has decreased relatively in many countries, an increase has been observed especially in poor countries with inadequate safety regulations. In countries like Liberia , the number of road deaths is around 33 deaths / 100,000 inhabitants, several times higher than in industrialized countries such as B. Germany with 4.3 dead / 100,000. At the end of the 20th century, around 400,000 people around the world were killed annually by automobile traffic. In the United States, the number of annual automotive deaths ranged from 25,000 to 50,000 between 1925 and the late 20th century. The total number of road casualties in the period mentioned is two to three million.

In Germany, 4,009 people died in road traffic in 2011, and there were also 306,300 injuries. The number of road fatalities has decreased in the last few decades, which is explained by high investments in the safety of motor vehicles, high-profile campaigns and significantly improved road safety education . In 2011, however, there were again more fatalities and injuries than in 2010. Since these figures only concern deaths from cars, the total number of road fatalities is higher overall.

The Vision Zero is designed to help reduce the number of victims.

Parameters of the traffic process

Traffic volume, traffic distance (transport distance) , traffic work, traffic time , traffic performance, traffic flow rate (flow intensity), traffic source strength or source intensity (inflow intensity), traffic decrease intensity or decrease intensity (flow intensity), traffic throughput, traffic speed. These parameters are important for the quantitative evaluation of traffic processes and for traffic modeling (for example in traffic management , traffic econometrics , traffic planning , traffic physics and in traffic management technology ).


The establishment of rules and the monitoring of compliance with them is the responsibility of the federal and state transport ministries, the traffic departments of the districts and municipalities, as well as the police or special facilities (e.g. air traffic control , the Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG), the Federal Maritime and Hydrographics (BSH), the water shipping directorates (WSD), the water police , the DPO ).

The transport policy makes the decision on the design of the traffic and the construction and upgrading of transport facilities .

The scientific treatment of all aspects of the process of relocating people, goods and messages is the responsibility of the traffic sciences .

Type of traffic

All traffic technologies that use the same traffic route are summarized under one type of traffic . Types of transport include road transport , rail transport , shipping , air transport , etc.


A distinction is made depending on the definition level:

Scheduled traffic § 42  PBefG Occasional traffic § 46  PBefG


Communication : radio room on the research vessel Polarstern

In information technology , data is exchanged via:

Legal provisions

The following laws and other regulations apply to modes of transport that are subject to authorization:

See also

Portal: Transport and Traffic  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of transport and traffic


Web links

Commons : Traffic  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Verkehr  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Traffic  - Quotes



Individual evidence

  1. Frank Höfler: Transport Practice . tape 1 : traffic planning . Bauwerk Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-934369-52-9 , p. 25 .
  2. a b Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie. Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-8252-2687-5 , p. 18.
  3. Claus J. Tully and Dirk Baier: Mobile everyday life: Mobility between option and compulsion: The interplay of biographical motives and social requirements . VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-15103-7 , pp. 34, 39f.
  4. ^ Siegbert A. Warwitz: Traffic as a hazardous situation / traffic as a learning area. In: Ders .: Traffic education from the child. Perceive-play-think-act. 6th edition. Baltmannsweiler 2009, pp. 10-21 and pp. 21-29.
  6. ^ Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie. Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-8252-2687-5 , p. 21.
  7. ^ Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie. Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-8252-2687-5 , pp. 21/22.
  8. ^ Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie. Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-8252-2687-5 , pp. 22/23.
  9. Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Development (Ed.): Verkehr in Numbers 2013/2014. DVV Media Group GmbH, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-87154-493-4 , p. 217.
  10. Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Development (Ed.): Verkehr in Numbers 2013/2014. DVV Media Group GmbH, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-87154-493-4 , p. 219.
  11. ^ Weert Canzler , Andreas Knie , Smart Networks. How the energy and transport turnaround succeeds. Munich 2013, p. 26.
  12. Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Development (Ed.): Verkehr in Numbers 2013/2014. DVV Media Group GmbH, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-87154-493-4 , p. 241.
  13. Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Development (Ed.): Verkehr in Numbers 2013/2014. DVV Media Group GmbH, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-87154-493-4 , p. 245.
  14. Traffic and urban development effects of online trading , final report, as of August 16, 2018
  15. ^ Weert Canzler , Andreas Knie , Smart Networks. How the energy and transport turnaround succeeds , Munich 2013, p. 43.
  16. Costs and benefits of transport. Federal Office for Spatial Development , accessed on December 10, 2019 .
  17. Cf. Christoph Maria Merki : Traffic history and mobility. Stuttgart 2008, pp. 88-90.
  18. ^ A b John Robert McNeill , Blue Planet. The history of the environment in the 20th century , Bonn 2005, p. 329.
  19. a b Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie. Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-8252-2687-5 , p. 311.
  20. ^ Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie. Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-8252-2687-5 , pp. 311/312.
  21. ^ Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie. Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-8252-2687-5 , p. 312.
  22. ^ Christoph Maria Merki: Transport history and mobility . Stuttgart 2008, p. 93.
  23. ^ Johannes Lelieveld et al .: The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale . In: Nature . tape 525 , 2015, p. 367–371 , doi : 10.1038 / nature15371 (English).
  24. ^ Johannes Lelieveld : Clean air in the Anthropocene . In: Faraday Discussions . tape 200 , 2017, p. 693-703 , doi : 10.1039 / c7fd90032e (English).
  25. Death on the windshield. Jugend forscht, archived from the original on December 5, 2008 ; Retrieved June 13, 2013 .
  26. Mikhail Sofiev et al .: Cleaner fuels for ships provide public health benefits with climate tradeoffs . In: Nature Communications . tape 9 , 2018, doi : 10.1038 / s41467-017-02774-9 .
  27. See Marlene Weiß: Schiffsdiesel - Smoke on the Water. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. 15th August 2017.
  28. Anke Lükewille: In focus: emissions from air and shipping traffic. In: EEA Newsletter. 15th March 2018.
  29. Cf. Frank Hütten: Schifffahrt: EU countries also want to know the freight volume when measuring CO2. In: DVZ. October 25, 2019.
  30. See also Alexandra Endres: Shipping is just as bad for the climate as coal. In: The time. December 9, 2019.
  31. ^ Harry de Wilt: Is One Belt, One Road a China crisis for North Sea main ports? In: World Cargo News. 17th December 2019.
  32. Strategy for the Reduction of Atmospheric Emissions from Sea Ships , European Union. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  33. Wolfgang Babisch: The NaRoMI study - evaluation, assessment and in-depth analysis of traffic noise. In: Umweltbundesamt (Ed.): Chronic noise as a risk factor for myocardial infarction. Results of the “NaRoMI” study. WaBoLu booklet 02/04, pp. I-1 - I-59, Berlin 2004.
  34. ^ Fiona Harvey: One in five Europeans exposed to harmful noise pollution - study . In: The Guardian . March 5, 2020, ISSN  0261-3077 (English, [accessed March 5, 2020]).
  35. ^ Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie. Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-8252-2687-5 , pp. 313/314.
  36. Worldwide 1.25 million road deaths per year . In: Frankfurter Neue Presse . October 19, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  37. a b Press release of the Federal Statistical Office of July 6, 2012 : 2011 for the first time in 20 years more deaths in road traffic.
  38. ^ Helmut Nuhn, Markus Hesse: Verkehrsgeographie . Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2006, p. 315.
  39. ^ Siegbert A. Warwitz: Traffic as a hazard area. In: Ders .: Traffic education from the child. Perceive-play-think-act. 6th edition. Baltmannsweiler 2009, pages 10-21.
  40. ^ German Institute for Economic Research (eds.), Claus Köhler / Henryk Bolik, Regional Structure of Passenger Transport in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1975 , 1981, p. 13
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  42. Regulation (EC) No. 1073/2009 , accessed on June 17, 2019
  43. Regulation (EC) No. 1072/2009 , accessed on June 17, 2019
  44. Regulation (EC) No. 1071/2009 , accessed on June 17, 2019
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  47. Full text of the PBZugV - accessed on June 17, 2019
  48. Full text of BOKraft - accessed on June 17, 2019
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