Can Zero-Turn Mowers Be Dangerous?

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A zero-turn mower is a lifesaver for any yard. But these aren’t without their flaws either, just like any other cutting tools or machines.

A staggering 80,000 people are injured and about 70 are killed each year due to riding lawn mowers, based on the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Tragically, zero-turn mowers account for the vast majority of these incidents.

Disturbing new research from the Amputee Coalition found that lawnmower accidents are the leading cause of pediatric amputations worldwide, accounting for the loss of limbs in more than 800 kids each year.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the risks associated with zero-turn mowers and the measures you can take to mitigate them.

Is It Risky to Use a Zero Turn Lawnmower?

According to the data presented above, zero-turn mowers present the greatest risk of injury. Reason for this is found in both their form and their function. You can use them with confidence despite this. Simply follow the safety measures that we will outline for you below.

But before we get to the cutting edge technology, let’s take a quick look at the engineering that goes into zero-turn mowers.

How a Zero-Turn Mower Is Built and Operated.

Zero Turn Mowers
Zero Turn Mowers

A zero-turn mower is able to perform sharp turns because it uses differential steering instead of conventional controls. It does not use conventional steering wheels but rather has two separate lever handles for controlling the left and right wheels.

ZTRs are distinct from tractors in a number of ways, the most obvious being their rear-mounted engine and larger rear wheels compared to their front-mounted counterparts.

The mower’s wheels can be turned in opposite directions thanks to the innovative design. Therefore, z-turn mowers provide unprecedented control and precision. To achieve a zero radius, simply move one wheel forward while simultaneously moving the other wheel backward.

Do Messy Areas Benefit from Zero-Turn Mowers?

Large, open lawns are ideal for zero-turn mowers because of their ease of use and minimal impact on the grass. Due to their impressive precision steering, they can swiftly and easily navigate around obstructions.

To make matters worse, ZTRs perform best on inclines no steeper than 15 degrees. This is due to the fact that the device uses a steering system located in the back. Additionally, it has rear brakes that, if applied too rapidly, could cause the mower to slide downhill.

The type of wheels on a z-turn mower also makes it dangerous to use on inclines. Casters in the front mean they have no traction when going downhill. Furthermore, the wheels may skid when going up or down a hill, leading to a rollover if the vehicle is being driven at high speeds. Refer to “Best zero-turn mower for hills” for more information.

What Risk Do Zero-Turn Lawnmowers Pose?

In terms of efficiency and convenience, zero-turn mowers are unparalleled. Their one-of-a-kind structure makes it simple to steer around any kind of obstruction. There are a few problems with this design, though. Some of the most common risks when using a z-turn mower are discussed below.

  • Overturning

With a z-turn mower, the front wheels are significantly smaller than the ones at the back. More so, the machine’s engine is situated in the back. This type of mower relies heavily on a single pivot point—its back—to propel itself.

Plus, drum brakes mounted on the rear axle are standard on most types of zero-turn mowers. These aren’t as quick to respond as front disc blades during an emergency stop.

Because of its aforementioned layout, the ZTR is able to excel in both speed and agility. However, this feature also increases the likelihood that the zero-turn mower will tip over. Whether it’s a puddle or a small rock, your vehicle can easily flip over.

  • Mowing slope can cut difficult slides

These mowers have a hard time navigating hills. Their optimum use angle is only up to 15 degrees. The machine’s wheels are poorly designed, so it has trouble gripping the ground. When going up or downhill, even a slight attempt to turn to the left or right will result in the machine sliding out of control.

Mowing should be done in an up-and-down motion only. Turn the machine only when it is sitting flat.

  • Mishaps Causing Cuts

Injuries from lawnmowers typically occurred when someone accidentally made contact with the blades. The consequences were lethal. However, when the operator lets go of the controls, the blades on most modern zero-turn mowers automatically shut off.

  • Violating Victims by Running Over Them

Mowers with a reverse gear are available. A child or other vulnerable pedestrian may be run over and seriously injured if the driver isn’t careful to look behind them.

Essential Security Functions for Zero-Turn Mowers

Manufacturers now include multiple safety features to lessen the potential dangers of using a zero-turn mower. Some of the essentials are listed below.

Death’s Door

The deadman’s switch can save your life in an emergency. It is commonly installed in the mower’s seat and works to immediately stop the mower and the blades from spinning if the operator loses control and falls from the seat.

Cautionary Notices

When using a machine, it’s important to be aware of where potential hazards are located, and labels can help.

Security Barrier

The discharge chute is surrounded by a safety barrier. Its job is to prevent flying yard waste from being ejected by the mower.

Avoiding Accidents with a Zero-Turn Lawn Mower

In order to reduce the likelihood of ZTR accidents, please take into account the following eight safety precautions:

  1. Don’t take your car out on any inclines greater than 15 degrees or near any bodies of water. This is due to the fact that areas near water tend to be unstable, wet, muddy, and slippery.
  2. When operating a zero-turn mower, avoid slopes steeper than 15 degrees at all costs. We cannot stress enough how easily a zero-turn mower can flip over or slide downhill due to its design. Use a walk-behind mower if you need to cut grass in these spots.
  3. Never purchase a mower without a rollover safety feature (ROPS). Thankfully, this function is built into the majority of modern machines. If yours does not have ROPS, you might want to think about installing one. For the most part, manufacturers are happy to retrofit their products with ROPS at no extra cost to the customer.
  4. Never cut grass in a populated area. This is because a child (or adult) running behind you could easily be injured by a sudden slide.
  5. Fast and simple to operate, zero-turn mowers are a popular choice. However, you shouldn’t let that make you want to speed. Because a z-turn mower is more likely to spin out of control at high speeds, it’s very difficult to steer one at those speeds.
  6. Wear your seatbelt at all times while the vehicle is in motion. Put on some earplugs or earmuffs to safeguard your hearing.
  7. Before you begin mowing the lawn, you should take a look around to get a sense of the potential dangers you could encounter. And if at all possible, remove these potential obstacles before beginning the project.
  8. Lastly, spend some time getting familiar with your mower and its controls. That way, you’ll be able to use it with ease and proficiency, knowing exactly where its various safety features are and how to activate them in an emergency.

The Nutshell

When used properly, zero-turn lawn mowers are both safe for the operator and highly efficient. They have an excellent turning radius of zero, making them quick and nimble enough to avoid obstructions with ease.

Take advantage of your z-turn mower on slopes no steeper than 15 degrees. Make sure you mow when there are no witnesses. Finally, remember to always fasten your seatbelt and keep your speed down. For more information on how to use a zero-turn mower safely, I recommend the following resource.