Driving in Davis is an interesting experience, and it shows when you look at the commentary about Davis Drivers. It's quite a bit different than either SoCal or Bay Area driving. Here are some of the things to consider when driving the streets of the People's Republic of Davis:

Customary Order

Law Enforcement

Davis Police Department Traffic Unit consists of four motorcycle officers and an administrative sergeant. The motorcycle officers are used for traffic enforcement because they allow officers easier accessibility to traffic related problems. The traffic unit is responsible for enforcing the California Vehicle Code statutes, enforcement of local traffic ordinances, and investigation of vehicle collisions. The traffic officers provide dedicated enforcement at high collision intersections. If you are concerned about a specific traffic related issue, you are encouraged to contact the Davis P.D. traffic unit by email. Occasionally speed traps are set up, but you are more likely to see a radar sign that just lets you know how fast you were going and what the speed limit is for that street.

Traffic Slowing Measures

In its brilliance, the Davis City Council designs streets so that people will have to drive slowly through neighborhoods. Thus we see 4-way stops, traffic circles like the one on Alvarado Ave., speed humps (you have to take them at 15mph or less - if you care about the parts in your car) and curved roads. Every city does this but Davis takes it a little further. Presumably this is at the behest of the residents.

Purely Davis

  • Bike Signals. Remember, the bikes get to go first. There's a little bike symbol in the lights.
  • The Light Ordinance makes it difficult to see moving objects that don't self-illuminate
  • Parking in town and campus


Traffic Signals

It's hard to explain how badly timed these are. Though most lights have sensors, they tend to ignore people for long periods of time. Conversely, some lights stop a major street any time one car pulls up on the side street. Russell Boulevard is a prime example. During the Night Time, any car or bicycle that wishes to cross the street will immediately get a green light. Interestingly, during the morning hours, the bike button doesn't seem to make the light change speed up at all.

  • The traffic light at Arthur and Russell Boulevard in West Davis is a good example of the latter problem. Sometimes late at night, the light will favor people turning from left from Arthur onto Russell, while people headed either way on Russell are given a red light. This makes no sense since Russell is obviously more trafficked than Arthur. —KalenRidenour
  • Red Light Cameras
  • The amount of time drivers sit at red lights when not a single car passes through the cross street is ridiculous. Are the timing programs that operate the lights based on observation of traffic flows, or are they just randomly set?

On another note, the Davis Police Department says that they cannot send an officer to direct traffic in the case of power outages because the city would then be liable for car accidents. As per California state law, when traffic signals are off you must treat them as a four-way stop. Just because you don't see red doesn't mean you have a green - so it should go without saying, but pay attention as you approach intersections.

Street Signs

Unlike Davis' well-administered neighboring cities, the street signs here appear to be printed in small font (specifically, the signs displaying the name of the street). This increases the number of people who slow down at each and every intersection trying to figure out if it's the street they want to turn on or not. If you already know the names of the streets where you're driving, it's no problem. But the purpose of the signs is to inform people who aren't already familiar with the streets, right?


There are a lot of them, and you have to watch out for them. Watch out—most bicyclists, who, presumably, feel like they own the road, do not stop for pedestrians or cars. Be vigilant of bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the street (against traffic) and in pedestrian crosswalks, especially at night time. Thankfully, the system of Bike Paths in Davis is excellent, and works better than the road system.


Three points each. Bikes are only two. :) Pedestrians are generally a problem while driving in the neighborhood near Cafe Roma as well as the Downtown area, where people will often step out into the crosswalks without even looking.


Delivery trucks will often double-park downtown, blocking both the bike lane and most of the traffic lane.


Please note that it is a CRIME to leave the scene of an accident: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d10/vc20001.htm. This is known as a hit and run. For example, if you hit someone on their bike, you should pull over and make sure they are okay and exchange information/call police if necessary, instead of speeding away.

Random facts about accidents from the State of CA Top 5 locations for vehicle accidents that occur in Davis are as follows:

  • Mace Blvd./2nd Street = Unsafe Speed
  • D Street/3rd Street = Right of Way
  • L Street/5th Street = Unsafe Speed
  • Pole Line Rd./E 8th Street = Right of Way
  • W Covell Blvd./F Street = Unsafe Speed

Citywide Primary Collision Factors prepared for 06/01/05 to 06/30/05 Statistical analysis of the Primary Cause factors citywide equally indicated that Unsafe Speed and Right of Way amounted to the majority of collisions.

  • Unsafe Speed (Incidents=10, 23%)
  • Other (Incidents=8, 20%)
  • Right of Way (Incidents=6, 15%)
  • Improper Turning (Incidents=6, 15%)
  • Traffic Lights (Incidents=4, 10%)
  • Unsafe starting backing (Incidents=4, 10%)
  • DUI (Incidents=3, 7%)

Accidents Daily/Hourly Analysis June 2005

  • Primary collisions days have been on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday with 65.9% of all accidents
  • Hourly trend of accidents for this month correlate with work/school hours (08:00 AM, lunch break, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM)
  • Time percentage of these collisions:
    • 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM : 19.5%
    • 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM : 41.5%
    • 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM : 17.1%

Getting Around

  • Learn about Navigating Davis.
  • Transportation types.
  • Find some shortcuts.
  • Hungry? Stop at a Drive-through
  • Learn the traffic patterns.
  • Some say everything in Davis is Walking Distance.
  • Local Yellow Light Custom: If it's going to be yellow for any portion of the time that you were in the intersection, you should go. Everyone else does, as it will likely be a long time before you see green again. Some people do this on the first few seconds of a red light as well. This also means you shouldn't race ahead as soon as the light turns green, as even bikes follow the Yellow Light Custom.
    • California Vehicle Code section 21452(a) indicates that the significance of a yellow light is merely to warn that a red light will follow. Nowhere does it say that you cannot enter an intersection. Provided that the front of the vehicle has entered the intersection before the light turned red, one has not broken the law at all. There is no reason to speed up, because your only concern (besides safety) should be that you were legally entering the intersection (which you can do on a yellow). This is the same reason that cars turning left—but unable to, due to oncoming traffic—are allowed to remain in the intersection so they can turn even though their light turns red. So feel proud to enter an intersection on a yellow. -jr
    • While it isn't illegal to enter an intersection on the yellow light, the general rule (ie: a guideline, not law specifically relating to the vehicle code) given by the CA DMV is to proceed through only if you believe you can clear the intersection before the light turns red. They also say this about yellow signal lights: "When you see the yellow light, stop if you can do so safely. If you can’t stop safely, enter the intersection cautiously." - Jevan
    • Yep, I meant it as a custom. It's changed. - BrentLaabs
    • I changed mine too. But hey, it's good to know that it's completely legal. Always was a grey point to me until I researched it.
    • You guys are fools. Do you realize how dangerous that can be? I have seen multiple car accidents happen because ppl enter the light in the yellow, this custom of yours. This is a stupid custom and it isn't even a custom, it is a dangerous habit. -GeorgeLewis
      • I've probably seen more accidents caused by people slamming on their brakes at yellows than I've seen caused by people safely proceeding through yellows. Yellow light means "proceed with caution." However, what's dangerous is people racing through yellows—but there's no reason to race. After all, people are already used to people lurking in interscetions due to what happens when someone needs to turn left and cannot. -jr
      • Clearly I wasn't advocating the stomping on ones breaks every time one sees a yellow light. I think you know exactly what I was saying. -GeorgeLewis


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2005-12-06 18:12:19   I see cars without plates all the time in Kali, what is up wit that? —DudeNude

2005-12-12 12:07:54   Driving less is good for everyone. —GregoryThrasher

2006-05-16 22:42:34   I just recently moved to Davis from the East Coast and need to get my car inspected so that it passes the CA smog laws. Any recommendations on where to go? I was hoping the DavisWiki pages re: cars would give me a hint, but no dice. —BelvinGong

  • I haven't had my vehicle smogged in Davis but you can go to Speedee or Davis Smog or E-Z Smog or just about any place that does an oil change. Check your mail and there's a weekly book that has a bunch of coupons and ads in it. They advertise in that. — JR
  • Don't go to the place on 5th near the DMV. They try to rip off new residents. Do some research on the places listed above and find the appropriate price range. — TNN

2012-03-06 21:25:01   I got into an accident on 1st & B the other day (the T intersection near campus). I fit in the statistics of the right of way being the cause. Just a plea to others: please don't text and drive, and please don't lie if you're the one at fault. I should have called the police just to get a clear report. Oh well, lesson learned. —MichelleHV