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Tyler, Texas

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Bruce Roberts
Bruce Roberts
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Tips to Improve Riding Mowers

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Every year nearly 20,000 are injured badly enough by riding lawnmowers and yard tractors that they require hospital treatment. Approximately 75 people are killed every year and of those, one in five are children. Most adults would never let a child play with or near a working chainsaw yet chainsaws and riding lawnmowers have the approximately the same injury rate, 1 injury a year for every 400 machines in use

The primary cause of injuries is a rollover by the riding lawnmower or yard tractor. The person is either crushed by the machine or comes in contact with the revolving blade. Interestingly, while injuries and deaths involving riding lawnmowers and yard tractors have remained steady, the injury rate for walk-behind lawnmowers has decreased steadily. A possible reason for the decline in accidents for a walk-behind lawnmower, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission, is effective and mandatory federal safety standards. Unfortunately, these same effective standards are lacking for riding lawnmowers and industry’s self-regulation is not working.

Several safety organizations now strongly urge the following safety standards be applied to all riding lawnmowers and yard tractors:

A blade brake control that stops the blade within three seconds after the operator leaves the seat;

A minor design change so that a sudden release of the clutch in high gear while on a slope cannot cause the tractor front wheels to rise or buck more than 10 degrees.

A two-mile-an-hour limit in reverse speed to reduce the risk of back-up accidents;

A single control for speed and direction so that the mower operator cannot accidentally shift gears causing the mower to lurch; and

A deadman switch similar to the one for the blades which would cut off the engine when the operator left the seat unless the operator put the transmission in neutral and set the parking brake.

Currently, riding mowers and lawn tractors are made unnecessarily dangerous. If neither the legislature nor the manufacturers will regulate these products, then it is up to the trial lawyers and the courts through the litigation process to force manufacturers to make these products safer.