Traffic Safety Laws in Iowa

Child Car Seat Laws

In Iowa, parents are required to make sure their children are properly restrained in a car seat when riding in a motor vehicle. The law states:

  • A child under 1 year old who weighs less than 20 lbs. must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system.
  • A child under 6 years old must be secured in a safety seat or booster seat. A seat belt alone is not appropriate.
  • Children between 6 and 11 years old must be secured in a child restraint system or by a safety belt.
  • All children under 18 years old must wear a seat belt.

To learn more about Iowa's car seat laws, you can download a free guide from the Department of Public Safety website.

You should never leave children unattended in vehicles at any time for any reason. During the summer months, the temperature in a car can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit in just 20 minutes, even if the windows are cracked. A young child may also accidentally put the car in motion, causing a potentially life threatening situation.

If a child dies or is injured as a result of you leaving them unattended, you will face felony and/or misdemeanor charges. 

Reporting a Drunk Driver

Drunk drivers are a serious public hazard. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following signs indicate a driver may be operating under the influence of alcohol:

  • Weaving across the road.
  • Improper signaling.
  • Erratic braking.
  • Following too closely.
  • Drifting into opposing traffic.
  • Almost striking another vehicle or a stationary object.
  • Driving outside designated roadways.

If you see a suspected drunk driver on the road, call 911. However, many highway patrol divisions also have their numbers posted on signs along the highway.

When reporting a suspected drunk driver, you'll be asked to give the exact location of the vehicle, a description of the vehicle including the license plate number, and a brief report of specific behaviors that indicate a potential problem.

Headlight Usage

Remember to use your headlights whenever you are having trouble seeing other vehicles on the road―this helps other drivers see you. This includes dusk, dawn, and during poor weather conditions.

Parking lights should not be confused with your car's headlights. Parking lights should be used for parked vehicles only.

Electronic Devices and Texting

Electronic device usage is illegal for all learner permit and intermediate license holders.

All drivers, regardless of age, are banned from texting.

Helmet Laws

Iowa is currently one of only a few states with no state law regulating bicycle helmet usage and one of only a hand full of states with no laws regarding motorcycle helmet usage. However, protective gear is highly recommended whenever you travel on Iowa roads.

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