Zero Turn Mower Accidents: Statistics and Preventative Measures

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Many property owners prefer zero-turn mowers over other garden machines because of their maneuverability. However, you should know that these tools always come with risks when they aren’t used appropriately. 

Instead of learning the hard way, I’ve gathered data on accidents related to zero-turn mowers and some precautions to prevent such hazards.

Table of Contents

Common Accidents Involving Zero-Turn Mowers

When it comes to accidents with zero-turns, accidental blade contact tops the list. After diving into recent statistics, it’s clear that a significant number of these incidents occur during cutting operations and when people are maintaining their machines.

On top of that, mishaps like operators being thrown off the lawnmower are quite common when using these tools.  

zero turn mowers

Besides riders being injured, accidents also happen when non-riders (specifically children) run around the area where the zero-turn mower is operating.

Statistics on Zero-Turn Mower Related Injuries

In a report by Consumer Product Safety Commission, registered injuries inflicted through zero-turn mower usage reached around 4,200 per year. 

Although no specific mower types are indicated, Johns Hopkins said that around 51,151 injuries were recorded in the nationwide ER visit data in the past decade because of this tool. This study also indicated that 81% of these mishaps happened in April and September. 

The same study also suggests that 65.4% of these unfortunate lawnmower accidents result in wrist and hand injuries. Meanwhile, around 19.8% of the count mentioned adds to foot and toe accidents involving lawnmowers.

The most recent statistics that directly pointed to zero-turn mowers are recorded in 2015, where 19,200 injuries led to hospitalization. 

man riding zero turn mower

It may surprise you, but the typical age group involved in these mower accidents is around 20 to 24. This count is followed closely by 45 to 54-year-old users. (But do you know the legal age to mow the lawn? If you’re curious, read next!)

How Many Deaths Per Year?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission [1], the recorded lawnmower deaths range from around 70 to 90 people annually. However, it’s not certain how many of these fatalities are caused by zero-turn models.

One thing is for sure, though. Many of these accidents don’t lead to death, but it’s crucial to note that some can result in serious injuries and permanent disabilities. In fact, one in every five hospitalizations caused by these accidents ends up in amputation. 

Who is Mostly Affected?

Zero-turn mowers are often used in commercial settings. So it’s not surprising that many mishaps involve professionals and well-experienced users. But, what’s unexpected is the number of kids under 16 years of age getting injured by these grass-cutting tools.

Looking through the ER visits, 75% of those injured were men, while only 25% were women. This indicates that men are twice as likely to get injured using zero-turn mowers compared to women.

zero turn mower

Common Victim Cases

It’s no secret that zero-turn mowers are incredibly maneuverable, which is often the cause of many accidents. Having gone through the data extensively myself, I’ve observed that a significant number of incidents stem from making sharp turns, resulting in the mower flipping.

Besides fractures, this accident could also inflict brain injuries. Not using traditional safety measures like rollbars and seatbelts can also make you a victim of these accidents. 

See Also: Lawn Mower Insurance 

Hazards of Zero-Turn Mowers

Stopping

It’s important to note that ZTR models only rely on drum brakes. So unlike front disc units, its braking system isn’t as fast as you’d think. 

Hills

If you need to use this mower on slopes or hills, ensure that it only lifts to 15 degrees. You may not know, but zero-turns don’t have enough ground traction.  

Mechanical Failure

These machines include many components to maintain their efficiency, so you’ll likely encounter mechanical failure if you use them regularly. There could be smoke emissions from plugged air filters or fire hazards due to fuel leaks that may cause accidents.

riding a mower

How to Avoid These Accidents: Essential Zero-Turn Mower Safety Tips

If you don’t want to run into these dangerous mishaps, I’d suggest buying zero-turn mowers with deadman’s switch features. The blade will automatically stop rotating when it senses the loss of control or no operator on the seat.

Don’t forget to wear a seatbelt for an extra layer of protection. It will also help to read the hazard labels when changing unit parts. 

FAQ

Are riding lawnmowers a safer option?

Riding lawnmowers are less likely to encounter roll-over accidents, so they’re safer than zero-turns. 

What safety tools can I equip my zero-turn mower with?

You should install a dead man’s switch to automatically stop rotating blades and a blade guard to protect the user’s hand. 

What are the safe ways to check my mower’s blades?

You can inspect the zero-turn mower’s blades without getting injured by dismantling them off the unit and looking at them closely. 

Conclusion

When used correctly, there’s no need to fear zero-turn mower accidents. Believe me, these cutting machines can finish lawn care tasks much faster than other alternatives.

If you know your way around the proper maintenance and usage, you won’t find yourself in these unfortunate accident statistics.

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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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