The Dangers of Zero-Turn Mowers + Must-Know Safety Tips

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As an expert in lawn care, I can attest to the widespread popularity of zero-turn mowers due to their user-friendly nature, making them suitable even for novices. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to recognize that these machines, if mishandled, can pose safety hazards.

In this guide, I’ll be sharing valuable safety insights that will help you navigate the potential risks associated with zero-turn mowers, ensuring your lawn care experience remains both efficient and secure.

Why are Zero-Turn Mowers Dangerous?

Overturning

These occurrences typically happen when the machine tilts and topples onto its side, often a consequence of excessive speed on uneven terrain or while navigating sharp turns. 

Sadly, I’ve seen incidents where users are ejected from their seats and subsequently trapped beneath the equipment, leading to debilitating injuries.

Slopes and Hills

There are specific mowers for hills. All zero-turn mowers are not meant to be used on slopes or hills, and this is because the machine can easily overturn if you are not careful. Several operators lose control of the mower when it is more than 10 degrees.

operating a troy bilt zero turn mower

Cuts

Cuts and lacerations are the most common type of injury associated with zero-turn mowers. It is usually caused by coming into contact with the sharpened mower blades or being hit by flying debris.

Accidents and Death Rates

A study published in 2018 by Johns Hopkins University found that lawnmower injuries send close to 6,400 people per year into emergency rooms. Most require hospitalization because of lacerations, fractures, and amputations.

Safety Measures For Operating a Zero Turn Mower

#1: Avoid Operating on Hills and Slopes

Professional landscapers highly recommend using this equipment on yards with slopes less than 15 degrees in inclination. If you must use it on a sloped ground, you should mow up and down and not run it across.

operating a riding mower to slopy ground

#2: Do Not Use on Wet Terrains

Wet grass can cause the wheels to slip and make it difficult to control the machine or worse – make your riding mower stop from operating. In addition, it increases your chance of being ejected from the seat. Find alternative cutting methods for lands near bodies of water or on wet landscapes.

#3: Do Not Accelerate or Change Directions Swiftly

One of the dangers of zero-turn mowers is they can overturn if you take a turn too sharply or change directions too quickly. To avoid this, always slow down when you are about to turn.

So, do not attempt to change directions in the middle of a turn as this can also cause the machine to overturn.

#4: Use Only During the Day

Operate zero-turn mowers during the day so you can see clearly. Reduced visibility that comes with rain or nightfall can increase the chance of an accident. 

mowing grass with bad boy mower

In addition, avoid using the mower when it is windy, as this can also reduce your visibility, especially if uneven terrains are present.

#5: Wear the Seat Belt

Most zero-turn mowers come with a seat belt, and every riding mower manual recommends you use it every time you operate the machine. The seat belt will help keep you in the seat if the machine overturns or hits an uneven spot.

#6: Don Protective Gear and Equipment

Wearing long pants, closed-toe shoes, and gloves can help protect you from cuts and lacerations. In addition, it is recommended to wear safety goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris [1].

#7: Disengage the Blades When Not in Use

Be sure to disengage the blades when not using the mower. It will prevent injuries if someone accidentally comes into contact with the blades that are still in a cutting rotation

disengaging lawn mower blades

In addition, turn off the engine and remove the key before disembarking the machine. 

#8: Do Not Use While Children, Other People, or Pets are in Sight

Consider removing pebbles, stones, and branches lying on the ground. Deadly projectile coming from this debris poses a risk for pets, people, and even the property.

If a person or pet comes outside the house, turn off the engine. Never ride a mower with a child or pet. A small bump could put both your lives in harm’s way. 

Additional Safety Equipment to Install

A rollover protection system (ROPS) is a structure that helps protect the operator in case the mower overturns or the mower shows any sign of lawn mower error or issue. It is a great safety measure, especially if you use the mower on slopes or uneven terrains.

A seat switch is a device that automatically shuts off the engine when the operator gets off the seat. It is a great safety measure to prevent injuries or zero-turn lawnmower accidents if someone accidentally comes in contact with the blades.

FAQ

Can a zero-turn mower flip over?

Zero-turn mowers can flip over when going too fast, taking a turn too sharp, or changing directions too quickly. To avoid this from happening, always slow down when you approach uneven terrains.

Do zero-turn mowers get stuck easily?

Zero-turn mowers don’t get stuck easily because they have a lower center of gravity, which helps them navigate thick grass and other obstacles. As an alternative, you can opt for classic mowers like the American Company 1815-18 Mower, which you can operate manually. 

Conclusion

As an expert in zero-turn mower safety, I’d like to emphasize the importance of implementing proper safety measures when using these machines. Being vigilant and cautious during operation can significantly reduce the risks associated with zero-turn mowers and help prevent accidents. 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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