This time of the year allows Georgians to do many exciting things: grilling, swimming, boating, and more. One less thrilling activity is the chore of mowing your lawn. As the seasons change and the weather gets warmer, grass grows, causing homeowners to bring out the lawn mower. Unfortunately, this chore can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. Accidents involving lawn mowers are a leading source of emergency room visits. In the past, we’ve provided safety tips for mowing your lawn.
As technology advances, newer types of lawn mowers have been introduced, specifically the newly popular “zero-turn” or “zero-turn-radius” riding lawn mowers. These powerful machines allow for quicker and more maneuverable lawn mowing, making the chore much easier and more enjoyable. Unfortunately, like most lawn mowers, these zero-turn mowers can be extremely dangerous. Like other large mowers, they pose rollover and tip-over dangers to riders, especially when on uneven surfaces or steep hills. Because only the rear wheels are powered, the front wheels are used only for pivoting, which makes it much more difficult to stop one of these mowers. Depending on the back powered wheels to stop can be extremely dangerous when riding down a steep slope, especially when there is an obstruction such as a lake or building at the bottom to run into. These types of situations oftentimes lead to rollovers or tip-overs where riders either come into contact with blades or are trapped below the mower.
So how do you prevent these types of zero-turn lawn mower incidents from occurring? When you shop for a new riding mower, look for a front-steering tractor instead of a zero turn lawn mower if there are 10-15 degree slopes that you will be mowing. Look for Roll-over Protective Structures when shopping for a new mower as well. While these protective structures are required by OSHA regulations on commercial mowers, they are not yet regulated on consumer mower models. These ROPs include a frame, bars, or cab which protects riders in the event of a rollover. ROPs paired with seatbelts are said to be 99% more effective in preventing injuries and deaths in rollovers. Next, make sure to thoroughly learn all controls in a safe environment before taking on the task of mowing a large area. On any lawn mower, it is important to take it slow on hills or slopes. Riding mowers of all kinds should be maneuvered up and down hills, while push mowers should be operated side to side on inclines. Zero turn radius mowers can be more dangerous on wet grass, due to the lack of traction, so make sure that the ground is dry when operating these types of mowers.