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Not just a courtesy, it’s the law
Move over or slow down to keep everyone safe!

Rules of the Road

Move Over or Slow Down

By following these two simple rules, you can help save lives, avoid receiving a traffic ticket and prevent the potential loss of your driver’s license. Iowa law requires motorists to:

1. Change lanes or slow down when approaching a stationary emergency, tow or maintenance vehicle that has its flashing lights activated.(Iowa Code section 321.323A)

2. Yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights or giving an audible signal by moving over to the right, stopping and waiting until the vehicle has passed before proceeding. (Iowa Code section 321.324).

These laws are designed to protect motorists, persons being transported in emergency vehicles and personnel at high risk while performing their duties on Iowa’s roadways. A good rule of the road is to change lanes or slow down anytime you are approaching a vehicle that is slow moving, stopped or stranded on the shoulder, if you can safely do so.

Iowa's road workers, Highway Helpers, law enforcement personnel, emergency personnel, and tow truck operators urge drivers to provide them the room they need to safely perform their jobs.


Penalties for violating the law

fines imageMotorists are warned to move over or slow down or pay the price.

The scheduled fine for a conviction of violating Iowa Code 321.323A or 321.324 is $100 plus any surcharge and court costs.

After July 1, 2012, upon receiving a record of a person’s conviction for a violation of the move over law that resulted in a crash causing damage to the property of another person or bodily injury to or death of another person, the Iowa Department of Transportation shall suspend the person’s driver’s license/operating privileges, upon 30 days’ notice and without preliminary hearing, as follows.
  • For a violation causing damage to the property of another person, but not resulting in bodily injury or death of to another person, the Iowa DOT shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for 90 days.
  • For a violation causing bodily injury to another person, the Iowa DOT shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for 180 days.
  • For a violation causing death, the Iowa DOT shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for one year.
A person convicted of a violation that resulted in a crash causing bodily injury to or the death of another person may be subject to an additional fine, beyond the scheduled fine for a violation of the move over law and any other penalties allowed by law. The additional fine is $500 for a violation causing bodily injury to another person and $1,000 for a violation causing death.  

Road signs

Move Over or Slow Down signSigns that describe the state law are posted statewide on all the major interstate routes and state entries.

Iowa’s highway safety, emergency, maintenance, and utility personnel appreciate your cooperation and compliance with Iowa law to ensure the safety of the public and those whose job it is to maintain the roadways and provide assistance to you.


Iowa law

Here’s a look at the law:

Iowa Code 321.323A: Approaching certain stationary vehicles.

1. The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red, or red and blue lights shall approach the authorized emergency vehicle with due caution and shall proceed in one of the following manners, absent any other direction by a peace officer:

a. Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions.

b. If a lane change under paragraph "a" would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.

2. The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary towing or recovery vehicle, a stationary utility maintenance vehicle, a stationary municipal maintenance vehicle, or a stationary highway maintenance vehicle, that is displaying flashing yellow, amber, or red lights, shall approach the vehicle with due caution and shall proceed in one of the following manners, absent any other direction by a peace officer:

a. Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the towing, recovery, utility maintenance, municipal maintenance, or highway maintenance vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions.

b. If a lane change under paragraph "a" would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.

3a. A person convicted of a violation of this section commits a simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled violation under section 805.8A, subsection 11.

3b. A person convicted of a violation of this section which resulted in an accident causing bodily injury to or the death of another person may be subject to the following penalties in addition to the penalty provided for a scheduled violation in section 805.8A, subsection 11, or any other penalty provided by law:

(1) For a violation causing bodily injury to another person, a fine of five hundred dollars.

(2) For a violation causing death, a fine of one thousand dollars.

3c. Upon receiving a record of a person’s conviction for a violation under paragraph “a” which resulted in an accident causing damage to the property of another person or bodily injury to or death of another person, the department shall suspend the person’s driver’s license or operating privileges, upon thirty days’ notice and without preliminary hearing, as follows:

(1) For a violation causing damage to the property of another person, but not resulting in bodily injury or death of to another person, the department shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for ninety days.

(2) For a violation causing bodily injury to another person, the department shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for one hundred eighty days.

(3) For a violation causing death, the department shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for one year.

Iowa Code 321.324: Operation on approach of emergency vehicles.

Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle with any lamp or device displaying a red light or red and blue lights, or an authorized emergency vehicle of a fire department displaying a blue light, or when the driver is giving audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or bell, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right hand edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer. For the purposes of this section, "red light" or "blue light" means a light or lighting device that, when illuminated, will exhibit a solid flashing or strobing red or blue light.

Upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle, as above stated, the driver of every streetcar shall immediately stop such car clear of any intersection and keep it in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.

This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.