Pediatricians Want Shopping Carts Redesigned
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) says in a new policy report that shopping carts need to be redesigned to protect small children from accidents. It also wants stricter government regulation to see that a safety standard is set for all carts.
According to AAP numbers, 24,000 kids were treated last year for shopping cart-related injuries. Of those, 20,700 were kids younger than five years old.
In most instances, said the AAP, injuries occur because a child has not been buckled in or because they stand up in a cart. The AAP, however, maintains that injuries also result because the design of carts makes them prone to tipping over.
Injuries sustained during falls from carts are often quite serious with head, neck trauma and broken bones often resulting.
Dr. Joseph Russell is a pediatrician who has treated children with shopping cart injuries. He told The Associated Press, “Even if you use a safety strap, it doesn’t address the center of gravity. If the child is strapped in and the cart tips over, where is the benefit?”
Dr. Gary Smith, an emergency room physician at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and director of its Center for Injury Research and Policy, served as the chairman of the committee that wrote the new AAP policy.
“Because we don’t have a standard that adequately addresses the major mechanisms of injury, the best we can do is to caution parents that these injuries are very real, they’re very frequent,” he said. Dr. Smith recommends that if parents can find an alternative to current shopping carts, they should use it.
Dr. Smith said a shopping cart industry standard was adopted in 2004 but the voluntary program fails to provide a “clear and effective performance criteria” for design that addresses the tipping over issue.
The AAP believes the voluntary program is not working and state and/or federal laws should be established to require minimum safety standards for carts.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission put out its own safety alert concerning shopping carts earlier in the year. CPSC spokeswoman Patty Davis said Congress has told the industry “to pursue voluntary standards before we take a mandatory route.”
Discussion Questions: Are government-mandated standards needed if shopping carts are to be made safer to use? What role do retailers have to play in
the shopping cart safety issue? Should retailers develop a more active role, i.e. working with vendors to create a safer shopping cart?