Traffic offenders

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Traffic offender is the colloquial term for a person who has violated traffic rules. In official language, the terms traffic delinquent and traffic delinquent are also used for such an offence. In contrast to the extreme form of the so-called traffic hooligan, the misconduct of the traffic offender usually results less from a rowdy traffic behaviour than from carelessness, distraction or ignorance of the traffic rules.


The connection of the word “traffic” with the word “sinner” borrowed from the religious sphere characterizes in traffic life a slipping into the illicit, the forbidden, in the profane sphere. The linguistic environment also establishes references here, for example with the expression “fall from grace”, “repentant traffic offender”, “penitence” or “traffic fine”. In contrast to road hogs, however, the term traffic offender does not denote a person who grossly violates rules in an undisciplined manner. In most cases, it is rather a form of offence that can also be attributed to carelessness or oversight, but can still be classified as breaking the rules. The term traffic offender is accordingly not associated with the derogatory stigma of being disreputable, characterless. It is used for comparable misconduct with a gender differentiation for people of both sexes. Under the superordinate term “traffic offender” or “traffic offender woman”, terms are found which label the responsible persons even more specifically, for example as “parking offender”, “traffic light offender” or “speeding offender”. In addition to the word “traffic offender”, the official language of the courts also uses the term “traffic delinquent”, which is derived from the factual term “traffic offence”.[1]

Tendencies to traffic offender

Some authors paint a horror scenario of the rulelessness in modern traffic life and even speak of a “war on our roads” and “human sacrifices”.[2] Parts of the population are still dominated by the outdated fatalistic idea that “children have no brakes”,[3] “Children are like that”. “Children must inevitably have accidents because they are overwhelmed by today’s traffic life”.[4] They are therefore provided with stickers such as “Look after me”, suggesting to them “the grown-ups must ensure my safety”, or they are driven to school and sports facilities in their parents’ taxi. Traffic scientist Siegbert A. Warwitz counters: “Children do have brakes. They just have to learn to use them”. “Children are capable of learning and are willing to take responsibility, if only they are guided in a way that is appropriate for children and if they are allowed and taught to take personal responsibility at an early age.[5] Educator Roland Gorges calls for public transportation education to begin in kindergarten.[6] and teacher trainee M.A. Haller has verified the effectiveness of such education in her own experiments.[7] “Children need not have accidents at all. They can even contribute to the avoidance of accidents themselves”. Warwitz states as a result of an analysis of children’s traffic accidents, in which children are not considered “culprits” in the understanding of the law, but as the so-called “main cause” of their accident.[8] To this end, he lists a number of typical “thinking attitudes” that cause children to become traffic offenders:[9] “I’m safe in the crosswalk, the car will stop!” “The adults have to watch out for me!” “The light is red, but there’s no car coming!” “The tunnel is a detour, the others are crossing the road here too!”

But even among adults, attitudes of thinking can be identified that predispose to traffic offending:[10] “As a pedestrian/cyclist I am anonymous! The red light sin therefore remains without consequences!” “I have the right of way and am in the right!” “I’m a good driver and can sometimes risk more speed!” There is also no shortage of advice on how to “get your head out of the noose” as a caught traffic offender after all.[11]

A. Krampe and St. Sachse, in a longitudinal study, specifically investigated the causes of the relatively high level of traffic delinquency among young people and registered, above all, driving in a clique, without a driving licence and under the influence of alcohol as the main risk factors.[12] According to H.J. Heinzmann, lack of experience and a certain “recklessness” are the main causes of increased traffic delinquency among younger drivers, while declining physical abilities among older drivers.[13]

Legal implications

Violations of the codified traffic regulations[14] are punished insofar as they are recorded by the police. They can reach different levels of severity for the traffic offender and result in a correspondingly different level of punishment:

The German driving aptitude register (FAER), which has been kept by the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg since 2014, stores, in accordance with section 28 of the Road Traffic Act[15] Data on traffic offenders whose offence has reached a certain level of significance, such as being classified as a criminal offence by a criminal court or if a fine of at least 60 euros has been imposed on the person concerned or a driving ban has been ordered.[16] In common parlance, this criminal record is also called the “traffic offender index”.

Comparable to the religious origin of the term, the law also grants the “repentant traffic offender”, after insight, repentance and good conduct, the blamelessness again by deleting the points or the name in the traffic offender register.


  • Chr. Borzym: Das neue Fahreignungsregister (Verkehrssünderkartei) In: Straßenverkehrsrecht. (SVR) 2013, P. 167.
  • I. Peter-Habermann: Kinder müssen verunlücken. Reinbek 1979, ISBN 3-499-14267-8.
  • H. J. Heinzmann: Traffic Delinquency of Older People. In: A. Flade, M. Limbourg, B. Schlag: Mobility of older people. Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2001, pp. 227-240.
  • P. Hentschel (Begr.), P. König, P. Dauer (Ed.): Straßenverkehrsrecht (= Beck`sche Kurz-Kommentare. Band 5). 43., newly revised edition. C.H. Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-67136-4.
  • K. P. Jörn: War on our roads. The human sacrifices of the automobile society. Gütersloh 1992.
  • G. Kaiser: Verkehrsdelinquenz und Generalprävention: Untersuchungen zur Kriminologie der Verkehrsdelikte und zum Verkehrsstrafrecht. Verlag Mohr, Tübingen 1970.
  • A. Krampe, St. Sachse: Risikoverhalten und Verkehrsdelinquenz im Straßenverkehr. In: D. Sturzbecher (Ed.): Jugendtrends in Ostdeutschland: Bildung, Freizeit, Politik, Risiken. Leske + Budrich, Opladen 2002, ISBN 3-8100-3393-6, pp. 137-151.
  • A. Schwarze: The bible for the traffic offender. How to pull my head out of the noose. Eichborn, Frankfurt 1987, ISBN 3-8218-1065-3.
  • S. A. Warwitz: Dangerous Thinking Postures in Children. In: Traffic education from the child. Perceiving-playing-thinking-acting. 6. Edition. Schneiderverlag, Baltmannsweiler 2009, ISBN 978-3-8340-0563-2, pp. 16-19.
  • S. A. Warwitz: Are traffic accidents ‘tragic’ coincidences ? In: Thing-Word-Count. 102, 2009, pp. 42-50 and 64.

Web links

Wiktionary: traffic offender– Explanation of meaning, word origin, synonyms, translations