7 Iowa Traffic Laws Drivers Commonly Ignore

Many Iowa drivers ignore everyday rules of the road, such as the minimum speed rule and slower traffic keeping right.

As a driver in Iowa, you’re responsible for knowing and following the state’s traffic laws. But even if you consider yourself a law-abiding driver, there are probably some laws you unknowingly break on a regular basis.

This article explains seven of the most commonly ignored Iowa traffic laws. Read on to learn more so you can stay safe and avoid costly tickets.

Here are some additional helpful resources:

1. Iowa Slower Traffic Keep Right Law: The “Move Over” Rule

If you’re driving slower than the regular traffic flow in Iowa, the law says you must keep right. You either must drive in the right lane or as close as possible to the right edge of the road. You can only leave the right lane to pass another driver or make a left turn.

Any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic upon all roadways, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle or when preparing for a left turn.

IA Code § 321.297

2. Iowa Flow of Traffic Law: The “Minimum Speed” Rule

Under Iowa law, you generally cannot drive so slowly that you interfere with the flow of traffic. An exception exists for situations where you need to drive slowly to safely operate your vehicle.

You also can go slower than other drivers in order to obey the law. So if everyone else on the road is speeding, you won’t get in trouble for driving the speed limit.

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

IA Code § 321.294

3. Iowa Driving in Left Lane Law: The “Passing on the Left” Rule

The Iowa traffic code requires you to pass on the left. You must also keep a safe distance from the other vehicle. Be sure to wait until you have completely cleared the other driver to return to the right lane.

On a two-lane road, you cannot pass until the left side of the road is clear. If the speed limit is more than 30 mph, you must return to the right side before coming within 300 feet of oncoming traffic. When the limit is 30 mph or less, you can’t come within 100 feet of an approaching vehicle.

If another driver starts to pass you, you must yield the right-of-way. You also can’t speed up until the other vehicle finishes passing you.

The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle and shall not increase the speed of the overtaken vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

IA Code § 321.299

A vehicle shall not be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless the left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit the overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the safe operation of a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or a vehicle overtaken.

The overtaking vehicle shall return to the right-hand side of the roadway before coming within three hundred feet of a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction when traveling on a roadway having a legal speed limit in excess of thirty miles per hour, and before coming within one hundred feet of a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction when traveling on a roadway having a legal speed limit of thirty miles per hour or less.

IA Code § 321.303

4. Iowa Rear-End Collision Law: The “Following Too Closely” Rule

When driving behind another vehicle in Iowa, be sure to avoid tailgating. It is against the law to follow a car more closely than is “reasonable and prudent.” The amount of space you must leave depends on your speed and road and traffic conditions.

The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

IA Code § 321.307

5. Iowa Mobile Phone Driving Law: The “Hands-Free Driving” Rule

Iowa prohibits using a hand-held cell phone to write, send, or read an electronic message while driving. This rule does not prohibit texting or emailing using hands-free technology. You can also hold the phone in your hand to make calls.

A person shall not use a hand-held electronic communication device to write, send, or view an electronic message while driving a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is at a complete stop off the traveled portion of the roadway.

A person does not violate this section by using a global positioning system or navigation system or when, for the purpose of engaging in a call, the person selects or enters a telephone number or name in a hand-held mobile telephone or activates, deactivates, or initiates a function of a hand-held mobile telephone.

IA Code § 321.276

6. Iowa Four-Way Intersection Law: The “4-Way Stop” Rule

If two vehicles arrive at an Iowa intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right gets to go first. The driver on the left must yield the right-of-way.

When two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways or public streets at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

IA Code § 321.319

7. Iowa Left Turn Intersection Law: The “Right of Way” Rule

When making a left turn in Iowa, you must yield the right-of-way and let oncoming traffic go first. If a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction is close enough that it could hit you, you must wait. You can’t turn left until you can do so safely.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard, then said driver, having so yielded and having given a signal when and as required, may make such left turn.

IA Code § 321.320

Traffic laws are in place for a reason—to keep everyone safe. When drivers choose to ignore the law, it can lead to dangerous situations.

By understanding and following these seven laws, you can help reduce the number of accidents on Iowa roads. Please be sure to remember and obey these seven traffic laws while driving in Iowa.

Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>