As you and your family hit the road to do some summer vacationing, you should know that Maine is getting serious about safety when it comes to how you travel with your kids.

The rules regarding how long kids have to stay in child safety seats in the state have changed. Governor Janet Mills signed a new law this week that's a little more specific, and lengthens the time kids will spend in those seats. Instead of the broad 40 pound rule, Mills has made it so children will have to be in rear-facing restraint systems until they are 2 years old. After that, any child older than two, but under 55 pounds can change to a front facing seat. Kids who are under 8 years old, and weigh less than 80 pounds (or are shorter than 57 inches) should be in booster seats.

If your child is over 12 years old, and weighs at least 100 pounds, he or she is safe to travel with just a seat belt, but it does specify that the child should always ride in the back seat, if one is available.

The fines for not following these rules have also gone up. Your first offense will cost you $70, up from $50. Your second offense, $160 up from $125 and your third (should you not have learned your lesson the first two times!) will cost you $310 up from $250!

Luckily, there are many resources out there to help answer any questions you may have about the new child safety laws. There are also places around that offer free Car Seat Safety Inspections, like the event coming up this weekend, put on by Norther Lights Eastern Maine Medical Center taking place at Quirk Chevrolet Cadillac on the Hogan Road in Bangor.

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