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Navigating Iowa’s roadways: Essential laws for safe driving

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2023 | Car Accidents |

Driving in Iowa requires a solid understanding of the state’s traffic laws to ensure road safety for yourself and others.

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, it’s crucial to be aware of specific regulations, such as those concerning texting and driving, bike lanes and nighttime driving. These are some key laws and guidelines designed to help you navigate the roadways responsibly.

Texting and driving

The state’s laws prohibit all drivers from using electronic devices to read, write or send text messages while operating a vehicle. This includes not only texting but also using email, social media, or any other form of written communication. Right now, having a cellular device in your hands is not a “primary” offense that can allow an officer to stop your vehicle, but that may soon change. Senate File 547 has already made its way through the state senate, and could soon be made into law. If (or, more likely, when) it becomes law, the new rule will be “hands off” all cellphones while behind the wheel.

Navigating around bike lanes

When sharing the road with cyclists, drivers must exercise caution and follow specific guidelines:

  • Respect bike lanes: If a road has designated bike lanes, drivers must be aware that they are exclusively for bicycles. Avoid driving or parking in these lanes unless necessary for turning or parking.
  • Pass cyclists carefully: When passing a cyclist, give them ample space and avoid cutting them off, as this can be dangerous. Don’t attempt to pass a bike on the crest of a hill, when approaching a bridge or tunnel or when there’s no clear path around.

It’s important to remember that cyclists are afforded the same right-of-way that any other vehicle on the road would receive, even if they’re not in a bike lane. Harassing a cyclist is a misdemeanor offense under Iowa Code 805.8A.

Driving at night

Driving after sundown presents unique challenges due to reduced visibility, so certain laws and precautions apply to ensure safe nighttime driving:

  • Use your headlights appropriately: When driving between sunset and sunrise, or at any other time when visibility is limited to 500 feet or less or there’s inclement weather, your headlights must be turned on.
  • Watch your high beams: While high beams enhance visibility, it is essential to use them judiciously. Dim your high beams when approaching or following other vehicles, as the glare can impair other drivers’ vision.

By following these laws and guidelines, you can contribute to a safer driving experience, ultimately better protecting yourself and others on the road. Unfortunately, even the most cautious driver isn’t immune from accidents. If you end up in a wreck due to another party’s mistakes, find out what you can do to secure fair compensation for your injuries and other losses by seeking legal guidance.