Improper parking: A game at the expense of the common good

University of Munich

That Germany is a nation of motorists is not only clear in the renewed discussion of the speed limit. The Federal Republic of Germany is also very car-friendly with regard to the urban parking situation: this is confirmed by the current study carried out by a research group led by HM Professor Andreas Humpe on illegal parking violations in Freiburg.

Munich, May 17, 2022 – Crowded city centers are an urgent problem of our time. Too much individual traffic, too few parking spaces – and most of these are still chargeable. This ‘parking pressure’ creates related offenses as it tempts many motorists to ‘cheat’ by weighing the price of parking fees against fines. Or they just park illegally outside designated areas. It feels all the consequences of: walking and cycling paths that are parked, as well as entrance and access roads as well as lack of fees to the municipalities.

Research on illegal parking in Freiburg

Improper parking is also a major problem in Freiburg. An international research team led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Humpe from the Faculty of Tourism at the Munich University of Applied Sciences (HM) took a closer look at the parking violations in the university town of Breisgau. The survey was based on all registered parking violations in 2019, a total of over 180,000. “The data included place and time. We also had the duty schedules with the control districts,” Humpe explains. During the investigation, inspectors were also accompanied and questioned during their inspections.

The purpose of the study was to use the control frequency according to shift schedules and the recorded parking violations to calculate the probability of illegal parking being captured and how high the number of illegal parks actually is.

To do this, the researchers divided the Freiburg metropolitan area into geographical hexagons. The time-spatial probabilities were then calculated for how high the risk per six-hour hour is to be fined for illegal parking. The results of the Freiburg survey confirm: In 61.3 percent of the hex-hours located in the center and in 94.4 percent of the hex-hours outside, it is economically advantageous not to pay parking fees. “From an economic point of view, it can often pay to park in the wrong place,” confirms Humpe.

Balance fees, checks and fines

A fact that the municipalities certainly do not want. A first reaction to this would be to increase the frequency of checks. For this, additional staff had to be hired, which initially increases costs. Additionally, it gets harder to catch another for every extra illegal park that is discovered. “With rising marginal costs, it becomes economically unprofitable to discover more illegal parks,” says Humpe. Alternatively, parking fees could be reduced so much that illegal parking can no longer pay off. But it will only further promote private transport, which is neither politically nor socially desirable. “The only logical consequence is therefore to increase the fines,” Humpe sums up his research results. However, these are regulated nationwide via the fine catalog, so they can not be adapted individually by the cities.

Humpe’s research confirms that urban space could be negotiated in a balance between fees, controls and fines. In order to reconcile the still high level of individual traffic with the public good, parking fees in inner cities had to be high, the number of checks had to pose a significant risk of detection and the fines had to be higher in relation to the fees.

Prof. Dr. Andrew Humpe

Andreas Humpe has been a professor of business mathematics at the Faculty of Tourism since 2017. As part of his teaching activities, he teaches business mathematics, statistics, empirical research, data analysis, artificial intelligence and data mining in the bachelor’s and master’s programs. He also works at the Institute for Applications of Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems at the Munich University of Applied Sciences (IAMLIS). His research areas include traffic and mobility research as well as environmental science.

We are happy to arrange a conversation with Prof. Dr. Andrew Humpe.

Contact: Daniela Hansjakob T 089 1265-1150 or by email


Gössling, S., Humpe, A., Hologa, R., Riach, N., Freytag, T .: Parking violations as an economic investment in public space. Transport policy 116. Elsevier. December 2021. Available at

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