Dangers of Zero Turn Mowers (Suitable on Hills?)

zero turn mowers on hilly terrain

If you are interested in gardening or the lawn care industry in general, zero turn mowers should be a household name for you- and rightfully so! They are life-saving garden tools that have made their mark for years. That is not to say that this endearing product doesn’t come equipped with its setbacks. Much like any cutting machine or tool, zero turn mowers lead to accidents from time to time.

As per the statistics provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 80,000 people injure themselves while maneuvering a zero-turn mower each year, out of whom 70 succumb to their injuries. An alarming study by Amputee Coalition states that lawnmowers are one of the biggest causes of physical amputations, with more than 800 children being run over every year.

The dangers of zero-turn mowers are undeniable, especially when you try maneuvering them on hilly slopes. To avoid such dangerous situation you can opt for electric mower such as ryobi lawn mower, Husqvarna 315x, Husqvarna 115h and Husqvarna 450x these mowers can handle slopes up to 25 degrees and more unlike zero turn mower which handles slopes up to 15 degrees only. Their engine-powered, fast-moving, and quick turning mechanism hold the potential to roll over on hilly surfacesnear water bodies or retaining walls, or simply uneven surfaces.

It often seems like larger machinery such as skid steerstractors, and excavators are more dangerous. Still, zero turn mower accidents say otherwise. Its compact size and appearance can often deceptively come off as less intimidating. Still, it’s essential to know how to mow a steep hill with a zero-turn mower to ensure your safety. This article will discuss the dangers of using zero-turn mowers on hills and suggest some tips to avoid zero-turn mower accidents. But first, let’s understand the design intricacies of a zero-turn mower.

Understanding the Design of Zero Turn Mowers 

When pitted against other lawnmowers, a zero turn mower poses a significantly larger challenge and risk in the way it is maneuvered and the potential accidents it might result in. You can blame the frequent zero-turn mower accidents on functionality and design intricacies. Still, the good news is that none of this is irredeemable if you take some time out to educate yourself about the right way to handle it.

The dangers of zero turn mowers can be attributed to their differential steering. Instead of a steering wheel, it uses 2 independent lever handles for controlling the left and right wheels. So, maneuvering a zero turn mower takes considerable practice and patience. A zero turn mower’s rear-engine sets it apart from tractors. Their rear wheels are considerably bigger than the front wheels, making it possible to maneuver them independently across all directions. 

Zero turn mowers offer precise incomparable maneuverability, such as moving one wheel forward and the other in reverse to attain a zero radius. However, there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to the dangers of zero turn mowers.

Common Dangers of Zero Turn Mowers 


As we mentioned before, the front wheels of a zero turn mower are comparatively slower than the rear wheels, and the engine is located on the rear end. Therefore, most of the zero turn mower’s weight is exerted at the back. They mostly rely on drum brakes which are present on the rear axle. Front disc blades usually offer better and instant emergency braking mechanisms, but they aren’t as instant when it comes to zero turn mowers.

This specific design adds to a z-turn mower’s maneuverability and overall speed, but much like everything else, it comes with its downsides as well. These mowers are more likely to topple over when compared to other mowers. They can easily roll over even if obstructed by some small pothole or similar obstacle of any kind

Sliding Out of Control 

Zero-turn mowers might not be the best idea if you plan to work on slippery slopes or hilly terrains. They are usually recommended for slopes up to 15 degrees or less. Anything more, and you risk succumbing to the many dangers of zero turn mowers. Their design specification doesn’t allow for enough traction, so a small turn while moving uphill or downhill might lead to the machine sliding beyond your control

Here’s a safe rule to maintain while maneuvering a zero turn mower: always mow up and down. Avoid mowing across the ground, and most importantly, turn on the mower only after you are on a flat surface.

Dangers of Zero Turn Mowers on Hills 

Are zero turn mowers food on hills? No, they are not! The reason can be divided into 2 parts: firstly, these mowers have casters on their front wheels which make for great navigation on flat surfaces but grant equally poor control on steep terrains; and secondly, the rear brakes of these mowers can lead to sliding if engaged too soon, especially on wet surfaces.

So, the takeaway is that you increase your susceptibility to the dangers of zero turn mowers when operating them on hills- more so if the grass happens to be wet. The risks involved might not ring true for all models of zero turn mowers, so make sure you check with your mower manufacturer if it is safe to be used on slopes.

Should You Use Your Zero Turn Mower on a Hilly Terrain? 

Here’s something worth knowing about zero turn mowers: they work best on flat, large, and open lawns. They are quick and easy to maneuver around obstacles owing to their commendable precision steering. But, they are not the best for hilly terrains. If you plan to mow a surface that slants more than 15 degrees, you might want to do a double-take. A zero turn mower’s dependence on rear steering and brakes make it susceptible to rolling over on hills.

As discussed earlier, the casters on the front wheels offer little to no stability on slopes. You might risk the wheels skidding off if driven uphill or downhill at high speeds, leading to dangerous rollovers. If you want to use a zero turn mower for hilly terrains, it’s best to consult with the manufacturer first. 

How to Operate Zero Turn Mowers Safely 

While the best and only way to operate mowers is to be attentive, calm, and patient, you can take a few precautionary measures to avert the many dangers of zero turn mowers to a maximum. Here is a list of suggestions that might help:

  • Do not drive on high-risk surfaces such as steep slopes than 15 degrees, areas near water bodies, or retaining walls. Avoid using them anywhere but on firm, flat surfaces which are not wet, muddy, or generally unstable.
  • Go for mowers with rollover protection systems (ROPS) installed. Fortunately, most products usually come equipped with this, but you might think about retrofitting one if your mower doesn’t. Many manufacturers agree to retrofit one without extra charges.
  • Avoid mowing when there are people around. You risk a child or even an adult running straight at the mower or behind it, exposing them to risks of zero turn mower accidents.
  • Never drive them too fast. While their easy maneuverability and speed are praise-worthy, they tend to lose control while driving at high speeds.
  • Do not forget your seat belt at any cost while maneuvering the zero turn mower. It is recommended to put on earmuffs and earplugs to shield your hearing ability.
  • First, make sure you inspect the lawn you plan to mow. Look out for potential slopes, muds, puddles, rocks, uneven surfaces, etc. Clear out any obstacles from the ground and make room for the mower.
  • Go to the zero turn mower’s site or pick up a pamphlet reading out all the useful features and safety limitations. A thorough idea of important features and reservations will help achieve the best outcome.

Closing Thoughts 

Here’s the final takeaway: zero turn lawn mowers are extremely easy to use, super-efficient, and safe to maneuver, given all safety protocols are adhered to. Use them in the right environment with the proper conditions to avert the dangers of zero turn mowers. They can easily work around obstacles by mowing to their zero turning radius, but make sure they do not travel on terrains exceeding 15 degrees. 

Make sure there are no people around when maneuvering the mower. Always have your seat belt on and drive at a moderate speed. Good luck!

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