Zero Turn Mower Accidents: Possible Risks & Prevention

By | January 29, 2024

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With over a decade of experience in landscaping and safety protocols, I’ve witnessed and analyzed the intricacies of zero turn mower accidents firsthand. These machines, while efficient, have their risks, and it’s essential to understand them to ensure safety.

Key Takeaways

  • Higher center of gravity and narrow wheelbase in zero turn mowers increase risk of tipping, necessitating caution and adherence to safety guidelines to mitigate accident risks.
  • Lack of essential safety features like seat belts and roll bars in some models further elevates risk, stressing the importance of familiarization with mower operations and safety features.
  • High maneuverability, while beneficial, can cause loss of control or tipping on uneven or sloped terrains, emphasizing cautious operation.
  • User errors, inadequate maintenance, and environmental hazards significantly contribute to accidents; preventive measures include regular inspections, adherence to maintenance guidelines, and awareness of surroundings.

Understanding Zero Turn Mower Accidents

The higher center of gravity and narrower wheelbase of these mowers contribute to an increased risk of tipping, raising concern for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Rollovers and tip-overs can result in severe consequences, such as serious injury or death, if the operator is ejected from the mower or trapped beneath it [1].

Unfortunately, some zero turn mowers lack essential safety features like seat belts and roll bars, especially when using mowers with expansive cutting decks. Before using a zero turn lawn mower, it’s recommended that you:

  1. Get acquainted with the machine’s features and operation by reading the owner’s manual. This can help prevent accidents.
  2. Recognize common hazards associated with zero turn mowers.
  3. Stick to safety guidelines to significantly lessen the likelihood of accidents and injuries during grass cutting.

Related: Dangers of Zero Turn Mowers

High-Speed Hazards

Operating a zero turn mower at high speeds can be exhilarating, but it also comes with its own set of risks. The potential for collisions and loss of control increases when the mower is driven at excessive speeds, particularly on uneven surfaces.

Factors that can contribute to a loss of control when operating a zero turn mower at high speeds include:

  • Uneven terrain
  • Wet conditions
  • Rear-wheel steering mechanism
  • Sloped surfaces
  • High speeds

It is important to exercise caution and maintain control when operating a zero turn mower with an expansive cutting deck at high speeds to ensure safety.

Sharp Turns and Maneuverability

While the maneuverability of zero turn mowers is one of their most attractive features, their ability to make sharp turns quickly also comes with risks.

High maneuverability increases the likelihood of tipping over or losing control, especially on uneven terrain or slopes.

This underscores the importance of exercising caution when operating a zero turn mower to minimize the risk of accidents and maintain proper control of the machine.

It’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and take the necessary precautions while using these powerful machines. Staying vigilant and following safety guidelines allows you to benefit from your zero turn mower while minimizing accident and injury risks.

User Errors and Misuse

Accidents involving zero turn mowers are not always a result of the machine’s inherent risks. User errors and misuse play a significant role in many accidents.

Common user errors include inadequate maintenance, loose or worn components, incorrect tire pressure, ignition problems, clogged mufflers, and traction issues.

Misuse can lead to accidents involving tipping over, hazardous rollovers, backovers of young children, and injuries from collisions and running over objects.

Preventing Zero Turn Mower Injuries

A Person Mowing the Lawn Grass

Preventing injuries while using zero turn mowers involves a combination of factors, including:

  • Wearing appropriate safety equipment
  • Examining the mower prior to each use
  • Selecting suitable terrain
  • Being mindful of one’s surroundings

Implementing these strategies can lead to a decreased likelihood of accidents and injuries, making your lawn care experience safer.

In addition to adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines, it’s essential to:

  • Regularly inspect the mower for signs of damage or deterioration.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance.

These steps will help to ensure the lawn mower remains in good working order and safe to use.

Always be aware of potential hazards in your environment, such as rocks or tree roots, and exercise caution when navigating these obstacles.

Protective Gear and Clothing

It is strongly recommended to wear:

  • Close-toed shoes
  • Long pants
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection

to ensure your safety while mowing. Additionally, wearing a helmet, eye protection, and sturdy closed-toe shoes can reduce the risk of injury if ejected from the mower.

When it comes to protective eyewear, choose safety glasses that fit securely to your face and feature impact-resistant lenses. Some highly regarded brands for protective gear used while operating zero turn mowers include:

  • Toro
  • Honda
  • Robomow
  • Greenworks
  • Cub Cadet

Wearing the appropriate safety gear can significantly lessen the risk of injuries and accidents associated with zero turn mowers.

Proper Maintenance

It’s important to follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your zero turn mower, which includes:

  • Checking the machine before each use
  • Checking the machine after every 10 hours
  • Checking the machine after every 25 hours
  • Checking the machine after every 50 hours
  • Checking the machine prior to storing
  • Changing the oil every 5 hours
  • Changing the oil filter every 50 hours

Following these maintenance guidelines will help keep your zero turn mower in optimal condition and reduce the risk of accidents.

Inspect your mower for any signs of damage or wear, such as loose or worn components, and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance.

Making sure your mower is in good working condition, with all safety features correctly installed and functioning, can help in preventing accidents and injuries.

Additionally, addressing issues such as dull or unbalanced mower blades can reduce the risk of injuries due to increased airborne debris.

Environmental Awareness

It’s important to be cautious in areas with rocks or tree roots, and to be mindful of any potential hazards in the environment.

To decrease the risk of zero turn mower accidents due to terrain, avoid mowing on wet and hilly surfaces, utilize mowers with good traction, reduce speed when approaching slopes and sharp corners, and enhance visibility for the operator.

Zero Turn Mower Accident Statistics

Lawn mower turned upside down

Some key statistics include:

  • Approximately 4,200 injuries are reported annually.
  • Men are twice as likely to sustain injuries while using zero-turn mowers compared to women.
  • Annually, over 85,000 lawnmower accidents are reported.
  • These accidents can result in serious injuries including burns, deep cuts, amputations, and fractures.

On the 30th of August, 2004, while mowing beside a retaining wall’s upper brink at a mission located in Santa Barbara, California, a groundskeeper met a tragic end. His riding lawnmower struck a stone, causing it to topple over the edge.

The mower plunged three feet before landing on the groundskeeper, resulting in his immediate death [2].

These statistics emphasize the importance of heightened safety awareness and following safety guidelines when using zero turn mowers.

Annual Injury Rates

Each year, around 4,200 injuries are reported in connection with zero turn mowers. These injuries are part of the larger statistics of over 85,000 lawnmower accidents reported annually, which result in serious injuries such as:

  • Burns
  • Deep cuts
  • Amputations
  • Fractures

It’s worth noting that no data is available to suggest an increased risk of severe injuries related to zero turn mowers in any particular time of the year.

Despite this, it’s important to maintain caution and follow safety guidelines when using zero turn mowers at any time of the year.

Demographics of Affected Individuals

A closer look at the demographics affected by zero turn mower accidents reveals that:

  • Individuals aged between 20 and 24 are typically involved in such accidents
  • The 45 to 54-year-old age group is the next most affected
  • Children, particularly those between the ages of 3-5, are the age group most affected by zero turn mower accidents.

In terms of gender, men are most commonly involved in zero turn mower accidents. There is no available data regarding any occupational groups that may be particularly prone to these accidents.

These statistics stress the necessity of safety awareness for everyone operating zero turn mowers, regardless of their age or occupation.

Types of Injuries

The types of injuries sustained in zero turn mower accidents can be quite severe. Some common injuries include:

  • Wrist and hand injuries, which account for 65.4% of the injuries
  • Foot and toe injuries, which constitute 19.8% of the injuries
  • Laceration injuries, which are commonly caused by contact with the blade and impacts from debris propelled by the mower’s spinning blades.

Fractures are observed to occur in approximately 22.5% of zero turn mower accidents, with the primary causes of these fractures being collisions, rollovers, and running over objects.

These statistics emphasize the significance of following safety guidelines and taking necessary precautions when operating zero turn mowers to mitigate accidents and lessen the chance of injuries.

Choosing a Safer Mower: Riding Mowers vs. Zero Turn Lawn Mowers

Riding mower

Both riding mowers and zero turn lawn mowers are popular options. However, the safety features and accident risks associated with these machines differ.

Understanding the safety aspects of each type of mower can help you make an informed decision when choosing the right mower for your needs and ensure a safer lawn care experience.

One of the key advantages of a zero turn lawn mower is its ability to maneuver easily around obstacles.

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Safety Features Comparison

It’s important to consider the specific features included in each machine. Riding mowers typically include the following standard safety features:

  • Operator presence control (OPC)
  • Blade guarding and protection from thrown objects
  • Discharge chute and belt guards
  • Safety interlocks
  • Blade-brake clutch system
  • Back flap
  • Throw guard
  • Remote starting position

Zero turn mowers, on the other hand, come with their own set of safety features. These may include:

  • A dead man’s switch
  • Blade shield or guard
  • Regular lubrication
  • Regular checks for damage or wear

Both types of mowers incorporate safety features designed to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. However, it is important to evaluate the safety features of a specific model before buying or operating the machine.

Accident Risks

Riding mowers have the potential for tipping over, particularly on slopes or uneven terrain, which could result in crush injuries or fatalities. Zero turn lawn mowers also have the potential to tip over, causing similar risks of crush injuries or fatalities.

In both cases, the design of the mower, the velocity of the mower, and mowing on steep inclines can all heighten the danger of accidents.

Understanding the risks associated with each type of mower and taking necessary precautions can lower the chance of accidents and injuries.

It’s essential to follow safety guidelines and best practices for your specific mower, such as adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations, wearing appropriate safety gear, and being aware of potential hazards in your environment.

Zero Turn Mower Safety Tips

A child and a mower

To ensure your safety while operating a zero turn mower, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  1. Take necessary precautions when using the mower on sloping terrain, such as utilizing a slope gauge to confirm that the incline does not exceed 15 degrees and mowing up and back down the slope.
  2. Exercise caution when operating the mower near water or wet surfaces, maintaining a safe distance of at least two mower widths away from water or wet areas.
  3. Follow the proper procedures for starting and stopping the mower to avoid accidents.
  4. Keep children and pets away from a running mower, and be vigilant in watching for them if they come into the yard while you’re mowing.

Following these safety tips and the manufacturer’s guidelines can significantly cut down the risk of accidents and injuries during operation of your zero turn mower.


Zero turn mowers offer impressive maneuverability and efficiency, making them a popular choice for homeowners and landscapers alike.

However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with quality lawn mowers and take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe lawn care experience.

By understanding the common causes of zero turn mower accidents, adhering to safety guidelines, wearing appropriate protective gear, and maintaining your mower, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

Remember, safety should always be a top priority when it comes to lawn care.

Ethan Dixonete Avatar

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common lawn mower accident?

The most common lawn mower accident is cuts to hands and feet due to sharp blades easily getting past blade protectors.

How safe are zero turn mowers?

Zero turn mowers can be used safely. However, care should be taken to ensure that the machine is equipped with a rollover-protection system (ROPS) and that the seatbelt is worn at all times.

Do zero turn mowers flip easily?

Zero turn mowers can flip easily if operated carelessly, so it is important to mow at a safe angle when using one.

What safety features should I look for in a zero turn mower?

When purchasing a zero turn mower, make sure it is equipped with a dead man’s switch, blade shield or guard, regular lubrication, and regular checks for damage or wear to ensure safe operation.

What precautions should I take when using a zero turn mower on sloping terrain?

When using a zero turn mower on sloping terrain, use a slope gauge to ensure the incline is not greater than 15 degrees, mow up and back down the slope and exercise caution when making sharp turns or approaching slopes.

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