Motorized shopping cart

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A motorized shopping cart in a supermarket

A motorized shopping cart (also known as electric shopping cart) is a shopping cart equipped with an electric motor and navigational controls. It includes a seat (often equipped with an occupant seat switch activating movement of the motorized shopping cart from the occupant's weight) thereby also making it a motorized wheelchair, and it has a rechargeable battery that can be charged by plugging in the device when not in use in order to maximize usage. Motorized shopping carts are provided by supermarkets and other large retail stores for those with permanent or temporary physical disabilities who may have difficulty walking through a large store or pushing a regular cart.[1][2][3]

Many of the customers who use motorized shopping carts are not full-time wheelchair users, but find shopping easier using the device since a regular cart may be harder to push, especially when filled with merchandise, and walking through a large store may be cumbersome for one who is able to walk only short distances on their own power.



In 2015 the International Motorized Shopping Cart Race League started. Now it is common in many stores to host a race competition. Also in 2015 Costco with hold the first super market 500 in Salt Lake City. The president of the league Roman Scarcelli has  commented that the sport has grown significantly in the last 3 years. Champion of the super market 500, Cooper Williford,won by a 500 meter lead with his cart the Robust.

Illegal Racing[edit]

 In the mid 2010s an increase of illegal racing has started. In Salt Lake cities Holladay, Murray, Cottonwood, and millcreek neighborhoods street cart racing has become popular. Ben Yarrish leader of the spring lane families gang has been arrested and charged with up 400 counts of illegal racing. A spike in violence has also followed as gangs fight to win underground racing tournaments.The biggest gangs include the spring lane families, tubbies, and rancho raiders. The carts used in these underground tournaments have illegal modifications including nitrous oxide, extra bass stereos, neon lights, strobe lights, hydraulics, pneumatics,  and extra slick wheels. The most common variant is a dragon wagon which is a cart that has a very slim design with an extra large sub-woofer. The vehicles are often in the color of the gang they are in. Recently a police task force called S.C.R.T.F or shopping cart racing task force which has recently tried to fight the racing.  


While shopping cart theft has also been a costly matter for retailers, the higher cost of the motorized carts makes their theft a greater issue to the store, and thereby leads stores to establish policies prohibiting the carts from exiting stores, even though a disabled person may have the need to bring the cart all the way to their vehicle

In May 2009, a Florida man was charged with felony theft of a motorized cart due to its $2,500 value. He was caught not far from the store, riding the cart.[4] Had a non-electric cart been stolen, the theft would have been a misdemeanor.

In the same month, two South Carolina men were charged with the theft of a cart, and likewise faced felony charges due to it being valued at over $2,000.[5]

Such thefts are rare and difficult to sustain as the carts are obviously grocery store carts, which are designed with a maximum speed of two miles per hour. Most powered operated mobility devices, such as powerchairs and scooters, have an average maximum speed of 5 miles per hour, though many are faster. The baskets and seats are of commercial strength and the wheels are much smaller than those of consumer mobility devices.


There has been concern over the carts leading to injuries when used by those who do not know how to control them well. The injuries can occur to the user if they crash into an object with the cart, or to a person the user crashes into. To reduce the risk of injury, most carts have a back-up warning system similar to those found on trucks. They also are programmed with a low maximum speed of up to two miles per hour.

In Louisiana in 2011, a lawsuit was filed by a woman who claimed injury while using a motorized shopping cart. The case was dismissed as the defendant filed a motion asserting that the accident and injuries were caused by the woman's own actions and she could not meet her burden of proof. The store manager immediately tested the cart after the claimed injury and further testing was done by the store mechanic and an engineer [6]

Permission to use[edit]

While these carts are generally reserved for the disabled, most stores will take one's word for being a disabled person and will not challenge one's need for a cart. But there have been some cases reported in which a person with a non-visible disability has requested the use of a motorized cart, but has been denied the use by store employees who do not believe the customer has a disability.

There has also been concern over minors using the carts. In January 2009, a Wal-Mart store in Tennessee did not allow an 11-year-old girl with a broken leg to use a motorized cart, despite the fact that she had been allowed by other stores to use them.

Also of concern is who should have priority in using the cart. In August 2009, a 28-year-old man was charged with battery when he pushed an 86-year-old man out of a motorized cart when he allegedly took a motorized cart that the 28-year-old's mother was using.[7]

See also[edit]

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