Lawn tractors and riding lawn mowers are essential for mowing large areas. They save time and energy because they move much faster than a push mower but they can also cause serious injuries when an accident occurs. Understanding how to operate a riding mower and using riding mower safety tips are the best ways to keep yourself and your family safe.

Common types of riding mower accidents and safety tips to prevent them

Riding mower back-over accidents:

Children between the ages of two and five years are particularly vulnerable to being injured in riding mower back-over accidents with the cutting blades turning. Many of these accidents are preventable; when manufacturers fail to place a “No Mow In Reverse” (NMIR) safety feature on their mowers they are risking more riding lawnmowers accidents. Thankfully, pretty well all new riding mowers manufactured after September, 2004 have this inexpensive safety feature.

Riding mower rollover accidents:

When a person turns corners too sharply or quickly or mows on uneven ground, there is a risk of a riding mower rollover accident if the mower becomes unstable. The worst of these rollover accidents cause the victim to be crushed by the overturned mower. The best way to prevent this type of accident is to take turns slowly and to purchase a riding lawn mower with a rollover bar and lap restraint. Unfortunately, rollover protection systems (ROPS) are not standard equipment on many mowers.

Riding mower safety tips

  • Read the owner’s manual before operating a riding mower.
  • Check for proper functioning of the mower’s operator-presence control system (a safety feature that shuts off the blades when the operator dismounts the machine or rises from the seat).
  • If you own a riding mower with ROPS always operate with it in place and ensure that it is properly installed.
  • Check to make sure that the mower’s blade drive belt is set at the proper tension and that it is not obstructed with debris.
  • Check that the interlocks are working properly as they prevent the lawn mower engine from starting while the mower is in gear or the blade is engaged.
  • Never remove or disable guards or other safety features.
  • Always wear closed toed shoes (preferably safety boots), long pants and close-fitting clothes. Wear heavy work gloves to protect your hands when handling any of the sharp metal parts of the mower.
  • Before you start mowing, clean up debris off the lawn and get adults and children away from the area.

Safety tips for operating a riding mower

  • Never fill or re-fill the mower’s gas tank when it is warm. If you run out of fuel part way through a job, wait for the engine to cool before re-filling.
  • Never smoke or light a match when filling the tank with gasoline.
  • Before starting your lawn tractor or riding mower, inspect it for loose belts or other damaged components.
  • If an emergency comes up stop the engine right away.
  • Only start your riding mower while seated in the operator’s seat.
  • Riding mowers are meant to be one-person machines. Only operate from the driver’s seat, keeping both feet on the tractor at all times, and never carry any passengers, especially children.
  • Be careful not to throw a unit into gear accidentally as it can cause the mower to jerk ahead unexpectedly.
  • When operating a riding mower on uneven ground operators should use extreme caution. Always mow up and down slopes (never across) and avoid sudden starts, stops or turns.
  • To prevent tipping accidents, decrease speed when going down slopes or around sharp corners.
  • Maintain a minimum ground speed and make turns wide and gradual.
  • Always wait until the engine is properly shut down before dismounting the mower.
  • After each lawn mowing session remove any accumulations of grass, leaves or excessive grease.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!