Rules of the Road offers helpful hints for new and experienced drivers alike.


  Clay County Sheriff's Office -
Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road #1 -- Use of Seat Belts Required
Iowa law requires the drive and any front seat occupant of a motor vehicle to wear a properly adjusted and fastened belt or safety harness any time the vehicle is in forward motion on a street or highway in this state. The driver and passengers may be charged separately for violations of the seatbelt law.

Rules of the Road #2 -- Open Container
Iowa law states that a person driving a motor vehicle on a public street or highway shall not possess an open on unsealed container of alcoholic beverage in the vehicle, with the intent to consume it. If caught violating this law, the driver maybe arrested and taken to jail.

Rules of the Road #3 -- Following too closely
Iowa law states that a driver shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for speed, traffic, and condition of the highway. Two seconds is commonly regarded as a sage following distance in most driving conditions.

Rules of the Road #4 -- Proper Stops
Iowa law requires the driver of a motor vehicle to come to a full and complete stop at each stop sign or stop light, and yield to traffic before proceeding. Failure to do so is the fourth leading cause of accidents in the State of Iowa. Rolling stops are a bad habit and cause accidents and injuries.

Rules of the Road #5 -- Rules for Bicycle Safety
Iowa law states that a person riding a bicycle is subject to the same traffic laws and has all of the rights and duties as the driver of a motor vehicle. Bicyclists should ride on the right side of the road in single file, and must obey all traffic signs, signals and road markings.

Rules of the Road #6 -- Proper Display of Plates
Iowa law states that license plates issued for a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle or truck tractor shall be attached to the vehicle one in the front and the other in the rear. Additionally, it is unlawful for the owner of a vehicle to place any frame around or over the plate which does not permit full view of all numerals printed on the plate.

Rules of the Road #7-- Driving While Suspended or Revoked
Iowa law states that a person who operates a motor vehicle upon the roadways of this state while their driving privileges have been denied, canceled, suspended or revoked, commits a serious misdemeanor. That means if you are caught doing so, you will likely be arrested and taken to jail.

Rules of the Road #8 -- School Bus Stop Arms
Iowa law requires the driver of a vehicle meeting a school bus with is amber warning lamps flashing to reduce the vehicle's speed to not more than 20 mph, and to bring the vehicle to a stop when the school bus stops and the stop arm is extended. The vehicle shall remain stopped until the stop signal is retracted, after which the driver may proceed with due caution.

Rules of the Road #9 -- Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk
Iowa law requires the driver of a motor vehicle to yield the right of way by slowing down or stopping for a pedestrian crossing the roadway where traffic controls are not in place within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Pedestrians, however must yield to vehicles outside of this area.

Rules of the Road #10 -- Operating While Intoxicated
Iowa law states that you commit the offense of Operating While Intoxicated if you operate a motor vehicle in this state while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug or a combination of such substances. Consequences of driving drunk could include death, personal injury, jail, financial obligations, and public humiliation.

Rules of the Road #11 -- School Permits
Iowa law states that a school permit allows a person between the ages of fourteen and eighteen to drive only between the hours of 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM over the most direct and accessible route between home and school for purposes of attending scheduled classes and extracurricular activities at school. Such a license does not allow for errands and joyriding.

Rules of the Road #12 -- Harvest Traffic
During harvest season, farmers will be operating slow moving vehicles on the roadway as they work to bring in their crops. Please be alert for farm equipment and be ready to slow down quickly. When approaching such equipment don't assume that the driver has seen you. When following a slow moving vehicle, remember that it may make sudden and unexpected turns.

Rules of the Road #13 -- Road Work Zones
Road work zones are a dangerous place to work. they are also a very dangerous place to drive. Each year, more motorists are killed or injured in work zones than workers. That is why the Code of Iowa doubles the fine for any moving violation committed in a road work zone. This includes all types of work performed along the highway for which the proper signs have been posted.

Rules of the Road #14 -- Traffic Safety
We all take risks sometimes. Risks can make our lives more exciting, but not when safety is involved! So, don't exceed the posted speed limit, and remember, if driving conditions are not the best due to poor weather or roads, take the time to slow down. You'll get there safely and in one piece!

Rules of the Road #15 -- Halloween Safety
Halloween can be a fun holiday for kids and here are a few tips to insure they stay safe. First, make sure older kids who don't trick or treat with parents go with friends. Children should wear light colors or reflective tape on their costumes so they can be seen by motorists. And make sure kids know not to enter strangers' homes or cars.

Rules of the Road #16 -- Deer Accidents
Motor vehicles accidents involving deer cause injuries and thousands of dollars in property damage each year in Iowa. Many Car/Deer accidents happen during harvest season. To avoid hitting a deer, don't exceed the speed limit; scan the roadway ahead of you ditch to ditch; and remember, if you seen one, slow down because there are likely to be more.

Rules of the Road #17 -- Child Restraints
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for American children. Each year, six out of ten of the children who die in crashes are unbelted. Tragically, nearly half of these children would be alive today if they had been properly restrained. Obey the law and restrain children properly when traveling.

Rules of the Road #18 -- Winter Driving
Winter driving often calls for extra caution because snow, ice, sleet, and even ordinary rain can cause hazardous road conditions. Be careful, and remember, in icy weather bridges usually freeze before the roads. It's a good idea to keep a winter storm kit in your car and make sure your vehicles are winterized. If you would like more information on winter travel awareness, please give us a call.

Rules of the Road #19 -- Neon Lights
We have noticed a growing trend in vehicle lighting violations, specifically the use of neon lights. While it's not a violation to have neon lights on your car, Iowa law does restrict the colors of light that your vehicle can display while on the street. For example you can't have red lights visible from the front of the vehicle or white to the rear.

Rules of the Road #20 -- Yield to Emergency Vehicles
Upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle with its emergency lights or audible siren activated, Iowa law requires motorists to yield the right of way, immediately pull over to the right edge of the road, and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed. Failing to do so needlessly endangers the life of the emergency responders and other motorists.

Rules of the Road #21 -- Obstructed Driver's View
Iowa law limits the number of passengers that may be seated in the front seat of a motor vehicle to two, so as not not obstruct the driver's view or to interfere with the driver's control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle. Occasionally, we see pickup trucks with more than three front seat occupants, in violation of the law.

Rules of the Road #22 -- Current Registration
Any motor vehicle operated on a public roadway in Iowa must have license plates issued for the current year an attached to the front and rear of the vehicle. The sticker you are given when your tags are renewed show the month and year your registration expires. This sticker is to be affixed to the lower left hand corner of the license plate on the rear of your vehicle.

Rules of the Road #23 -- Officer's Crash Duties
Law officers have many duties at the scene of a crash. Their primary concern is to make the crash scene safe for the victims, other motorists, and themselves. They may even be required to block off lanes of traffic. As soon as you see emergency lights ahead, you should expect hazards. To safely pass, you should reduce your speed, merge carefully with other traffic and watch for lights, flares of officers directing you past the scene.

Rules of the Road #24 -- Train Safety
Railroad train crossings must be taken seriously. When approaching a railroad crossing with lights flashing and gates down, a motorist must stop and not cross as long as the gates are down. At railroad intersections marked only with a warning crossbuck, motorists should slow down when approaching the intersection, be prepared to stop, and continue across the tracks with caution. Trying to beat a train leads to tragedy.

Rules of the Road #25 -- Motorcycle Awareness
In the warmer months in Iowa, motorists share the road with motorcycles and mopeds. Drivers of cars and trucks must be alert for these small vehicles. The leading cause of motorcycle crashes is other vehicles turning left in front of the cycle. To reduce the threat, please take an extra second to check for motorcycles before you turn left, pull away from a stop sign, or pull on to the roadway.

Rules of the Road #26-- Maintain Control
The rules of the road require you to maintain control of your vehicle at all times. This includes when the weather and road conditions are poor and when the unexpected happens. You should drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent for the conditions, maintain a safe distance between you an the car in front of you, use your turn signals, and always properly wear your seat belt.

Rules of the Road #27 -- Right of Way
Traffic accidents at uncontrolled intersections often have tragic results, especially on rural gravel roads. Iowa law states that when two vehicles enter an uncontrolled intersection from different roadways at the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.

Rules of the Road #28 -- Prohibited Passing
Several Iowa traffic laws govern overtaking and passing a vehicle. On two-lane roadways, all vehicles are to be operated on the right side of the road. You may not pass any vehicle in a marked no passing zone or within 100 ft. of any intersection or railroad crossing. When a vehicle in front of you is turning left, you may not drive off the pavement onto the shoulder to pass on the right.

Rules of the Road #29 -- Light Restrictive Devices
A new law took effect July 1st, 1999 that makes it unlawful to operate a vehicle on the roadway if it is equipped with a device that restricts the output of a headlight, taillight, brake light or turn signal. This would include decorative plastic lens covers and tinted covers that diminish light output.

Rules of the Road #30 -- Open Containers
It is unlawful for a driver or a passenger to possess in the passenger area of a motor vehicle an open or unsealed bottle, can or jar, or other receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage. Passenger area means the interior of the car, including the glove

Rules of the Road #31 -- Insurance
Iowa law states that a person shall not operate a motor vehicle unless financial responsibility is in effect and the driver in the vehicle proof of financial responsibility card issued for the vehicle. In other words, the vehicle must be insured and the driver has to carry proof of insurance in the vehicle. On July 1st, the law was expanded to include vehicles operating in parking lots.

Rules of the Road #32 -- Unattended Motor Vehicle
It is unlawful to leave a vehicle unattended without first stopping the engine. That means you shouldn't park your car and leave it running to warm up in the morning while you run in to the convenience store to get coffee for the drive to work. Doing so is the easiest way for a thief to get control of your car.

Rules of the Road #33 -- Funeral Processions
Iowa law allows a funeral procession to be led by a vehicle with its emergency flashers and headlights on. All other vehicles in the procession shall also have their headlights on and stay close to each other. The driver of the vehicle in such a procession is allowed to disregard laws related to traffic signals, as long as it is not reckless. Vehicles that encounter a procession must yield.

Rules of the Road #34 -- Clear Vision
It is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle upon a roadway in Iowa with a windshield, side or rear window that does not permit clear vision. That means, in the wintertime you must have your windows defrosted so you can see out on to the roadway.

Rules of the Road #35 -- Winter Driving 2
This is just a reminder that winter driving often calls for extra caution because snow, ice, sleet and even ordinary rain can cause hazardous road conditions. We suggest you allow plenty of time for your trip, adjust your speed to allow for changing conditions, increase your following distance and wear your seatbelt.

Randy W. Krukow, Clay County Sheriff 
Randy W. Krukow
Clay County Sheriff