Cart Restraint System for Grocery Stores-Do They Work?



Shopping at a retail store should ideally be a pleasant experience. However, it can turn into a nightmare for shoppers if their children get injured due to falling over from shopping carts. These mishaps are common globally and during the period 2008-2012, more than 100,000 cases of children injuries due to shopping cart-related accidents were reported. Children getting injured in such freakish accidents can sustain serious injuries to their head and other sensitive areas in addition to cuts, bruises, and fractures. Cart restraint systems have been developed to protect children from any accidents resulting from shopping carts. The current article provides insights into the cart restraint systems and their effectiveness.

Legislations on Cart Safety and Restraint Systems

There are specific legislation and specifications for cart safety and restraint systems globally. It is nearly impossible to ascertain the safety of shopping carts for children by a mere physical examination. Hence a need was felt to have global safety standards and specifications for shopping cart restraint systems. The American Society for Testing and Material International (ASTM) shopping cart standards cover children aged between 6months- 4years and weighing 15-35 pounds. It prescribes that shopping carts should have adjustable child restraint systems and include seat belts and closures. The ASTM standard also prescribes that each shopping cart should have pictorial warnings for informing the parents to use cart restraint system while placing their kids in the cart. The New York state laws state that retailers should have at child restraint systems on at least 25% of their total shopping carts.

Similar standards are also prescribed in European Union which complies with European Standard 1929-1:1998 which has been implemented across 19 member countries. Australia and New Zealand also have a joint standard AS/NZS 3847.1:1999 which provides safety specifications for cart restraint systems on shopping carts.

Reasons for a Good Cart Restraint System

The major reason for a good cart restraint system is to prevent injuries to children while they are seated on the cart. More than 20,000 children aged below 5 years are injured due to shopping carts in the US alone. Injuries due to falling from shopping carts account for 84% of the total injuries to children below 5 years. Hence, a good quality cart restraint system becomes imperative for ensuring the safety of children.

Different Types of Cart Restraint Systems

Cart restraint systems on shopping carts can be subdivided into two major categories- active and passive. Active cart restraint systems need the active involvement and participation of the parents for securing their children in the shopping cart. Examples of active cart restraint systems include lap seat belt, and harness systems. The parents need to secure their children with the active cart restraint system and need to constantly monitor them to ensure their safety. This reduces the overall effectiveness and usefulness of the active cart restraint systems.

Passive cart restraint systems are also known as automatic restraint systems. It automatically secures the children when they are seated in the cart. These restraint systems can also be specifically designed to prevent the cart from moving when a child is seated on it. It is evident that passive cart restraint systems do not require direct involvement of the parents to secure the child and constantly track it for their safety. This makes passive restraint systems better than active cart restraint systems.

Do Cart Restraint System Really Work?

Though the cart restraint systems on shopping carts are a welcome safety feature, their effectiveness needs to be studied in detailed. All cart restraint systems are not equipped to protect children from injuries due to cart tip-overs. Infants who are restrained to the cart with the help of a seat belt or who are seated high on the cart can lead to a higher center of gravity for the cart which can result in its tipping over. Studies also indicate that 38% of the injuries resulting to infants below 2 years are caused due to tipping over of the shopping cart.

The height of the fall is the critical factor affecting the extent of injury. Hence, it is always desirable to have cart restraint system which are closer to the ground level. Putting the child lower in the shopping cart with the restraint system lowers the center of gravity of the cart and reduces chances of injuries due to tipping over incidents. Most of the modern cart restraint systems use this principle to ensure children’s safety. These systems also provide sufficient space to easily accommodate pre-school children in the shopping cart.


Cart restraint systems have been a welcome addition to the shopping carts as it ensures safety of children seated on them. Passive restraint systems are more effective than active restraint systems in protecting children. However, cart restraint systems are not fool-proof and mishaps can still happen as they can increase the center of gravity of the cart thereby making them vulnerable to tipping over. Parents should thus take proper care of their children to keep them safe from injuries related to shopping carts.


Steven M. Degener, J.D. Clayton, CA, United States Steve has spent over 25 years in Retail Loss Prevention. His last position held was VP of Loss Prevention for a Fortune 500 company. Other positions include Deputy Sheriff and Director of Loss Prevention Services for various Retailers. Our sites include, and Follow us with Twitter at LPACADEMYcom and Facebook at the Loss Prevention Academy.