Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers

Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in your own state, that does not mean you know them in all of the others. If you are planning to visit or move to Iowa, you will want to make sure you are aware of the rules of the road that are listed below as they may be different from those that you follow in your own state.

Driver’s licenses and permits

  • The legal age to receive an Instruction Permit is 14.

  • The Instruction Permit must be held for 12 months. The driver must be violation and accident-free for six consecutive months before being eligible for an intermediate license.

  • Those who are age 16 and over can become licensed drivers.

  • A full driver’s license is available when the driver turns 17 and meets all requirements.

  • Drivers under age 18 must pass a state-approved driver’s education course.

  • Failing to follow the restrictions on your driver’s license, such as requiring corrective lenses, can result in a fine if you are pulled over by law enforcement.

  • Moped licenses are required for those between the ages of 14 and 18, who plan to ride them on the roadways.

Cell phones

  • It is illegal to send or read text messages or emails while driving.

  • Drivers under the age of 18 are not permitted to use cell phones or any electronic device while driving.

Right of way

  • Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks. However, drivers are required to yield even if they are jaywalking or crossing illegally.

  • Pedestrians are required to yield the right of way to traffic when not crossing at an appropriate crosswalk.

  • Drivers and pedestrians must yield the right of way if not doing so will result in an accident or injury.

Seat belts

  • All drivers and passengers in the front seat of all vehicles are required to wear a seat belt.

  • Children under six years of age must be in a child safety seat designed for their height and weight.

General rules

  • Reserved lanes - Certain lanes on roadways have signs indicating that those lanes are reserved for buses and carpools, bicycles or buses and four-person carpools. No other vehicles are permitted in these lanes.

  • School buses - Drivers must stop a minimum of 15 feet from a bus that is stopped and has its red lights flashing or the ‘stop’ arm out.

  • Parking - Drivers can’t park vehicles within 5 feet of a fire hydrant or 10 feet of a stop sign.

  • Unpaved roads - The speed limit on unpaved roads is 50 MPH between sunset and sunrise and 55 MPH between sunrise and sunset.

  • Uncontrolled intersections - Some rural roads in Iowa may not have stop or yield signs. Approach these intersections with caution and make sure you are ready to stop if there is oncoming traffic.

  • Headlights - Turn on your headlights whenever the windshield wipers are needed due to inclement weather or whenever visibility is altered by dust or smoke.

  • Parking lights - It is illegal to drive with only the parking lights illuminated.

  • Window tint - Iowa law requires tint on the front side windows of any vehicle to allow 70% of the available light to pass through.

  • Exhaust systems - Exhaust systems are required. Mufflers with bypasses, cutouts or other similar devices are not permitted.

Understanding the Iowa rules of the road will make sure you are in compliance when driving on the roads and highways throughout the state. If you would like more information, make sure to check the Iowa Driver’s Manual.


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