View Full Version : Safety tips for mowing with zero turn mower

11-30-2009, 09:50 PM
I have just purchased my first ZTR GreatDane Chariot for residential use.
I do have some small short steep hills to mow and would like some safety tips for mowing with a ZTR on hills and in general. My mower does not have ROP but it does have a seat belt.
What are the most common accidents that happen on a ZTR???

11-30-2009, 10:15 PM
tie a rope to the bumper and lower it down the hill. Just DON'T let go of the rope.....

11-30-2009, 10:21 PM
I am just kidding you are a smart man to ask the question. Safety is a key point to being successful. Get a roll over protection system installed. And practice riding it before you even think about a hill. Then start by going uphill first. Really you should always go uphill if possible. Next AlWAYS mow away from people. If you are not use to the power of a zero turn. They can shoot some nasty stuff out at a very dangerous speed. The list can go on and on. But a big thing is take it SLOW... when you feel you have it for the first time. You don't! Take it slow! GL

11-30-2009, 10:22 PM
Uh...don't wear a seatbelt without a ROPS. Why would they spec a mower with a belt and no rops? Talk about a law suit waiting to happen...

11-30-2009, 11:08 PM
Get a ROP put on, and never stop fearing the mower or get too comfortable with it on hills. A year ago I rolled my Toro Diesel with the ROP system down, it rolled completely over me twice. Came across my rib cage and it also rolled over my head, the Lord was looking out for me - after being rushed to the hospital which they were considering flying me due to the mechanism and amount of pain I was in.. I VERY fortunately walked away after an over night observation with only a fractured rib. God Bless

11-30-2009, 11:27 PM
^ What they said! I have a Great Dane and a Scag zero turn, both 48's. I don't know why, but the GD does not do hills well. In fact it will get away from you in a hurry! Once it starts sliding it's gone. My Scag is much more stable and usaully I can save it if I feel it slipping. The GD weighs in at about 1000 lbs vs. the Scag's 800+. Maybe that makes the difference, I don't know, but use caution!! Operate it on level ground until you get used to the controls and how it handles. You can't be too safe!

Alpha Property
12-01-2009, 12:30 AM
as stated above- do not wear the seat belt without a ROPS, the belt is there to keep you inside of the ROPS, if you don't have one then you want to be thrown as far as possble away from the rolling machine, stay up and down hills as much as possible

12-01-2009, 02:30 AM
Great safety tips for homeowners in this thread! I hear LCO's are flocking there to offer advice.


12-01-2009, 03:52 AM
How odd, the Great Dane site shows two Chariots...
One with, and one without Rops...
So I'll believe you, which isn't to say that I approve of this.

And whether it's the most common accident or not I couldn't say...
But one very deadly one would be the Ztr flipping over on top of the
operator, causing pretty much instant death.
This happens several times a year across the USA, now that's only according to the articles I read, so it probably happens a bit more...

Now I'm done paying for mine, with a few 100 hours on the meter I can say I've cut some steep hills and it's never flipped, but...
It's landed me in a steep concrete culvert and a few other ditches, more than once have I had to get the truck to go fish out my mower.
So I not only have a ROPS but I leave it up and installed at ALL times, even on perfectly flat land.

And I really think you should get that ROPS system, installed.

Then, learn the height and dimensions of it because you'll need to get used to it
around low hanging branches, but it sure beats being crushed by a 1,500 pound machine.

Peace out

12-01-2009, 10:45 AM
If their is hills in the area your dealer should only be selling units with ROPS. Call the dealer and get ROPS put on.

12-01-2009, 10:58 AM

Get used to the machine!!!!!!!!!

Take your time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No sudden turns!!!!!!!!!

Avoid wet grass & early morning dew if you can!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nose straight down & nose straight up shifts the center of gravity & you can turn turtle... accept that some grades are too steep. MFG. says no more than 15% grade.

Be careful... be careful... be careful!!!!!

12-01-2009, 06:43 PM
I checked with my dealer about getting a ROPS and they said I could have one. The Rops goes with it anyway. So I did go and pick it up and will have it on the mower the next time I use it. I now remember telling the dealer I didnt want the rops on it when I bought it....I didnt want to mess with it, but now after researching the dangers of ZTR's I have had a change of heart.
Will now have the ROPS on and buckling up!!

Thanks for the replies

12-01-2009, 07:51 PM
All right :cheers:

Now a few other lessons:

NEVER ever point the Ztr nose first down a hill!
Don't worry, the first time or two you do it, you will instantly find out why lol

The reason is ALL your traction is in the back, and you point one down slope and gravity takes over, you'll end up going for the ride of your life.
So always do hills nose up, yes that could mean having to back down it and other nonsense but don't point that Ztr down slope.

Now if it's not super steep you can do most of them sideways, I know it helps for me to LEAN over the high rear tire a bit as well.
If the high tire loses traction going sideways, the Z reacts by wanting to point its nose down hill, need I repeat?

Oh, and one more time: LEARN the dimensions of that ROPS and be CAREFUL around trees and branches!
This, however, isn't critical, just one hell of a scare and a bit uncomfortable, far as I know, when a tree branch catches the bar...

So like they said, take your time, before long you'll be the expert teaching us.

12-01-2009, 08:01 PM
Going sideways on hills: It took me a bit to learn the trick, but if your upper wheel loses traction, just use the lower wheel that has all the weight on it to do whatever you need to do like turn and so on. Before I learned, I found myself spinning the upper wheel too much on hills going sideways...before I learned to use the right technique to put most of the work on the lower wheel with all the weight/traction. Once I get my new wider wheels I'm going to fill them most of the way with fluid for more traction and and to help keep the wheels on the ground.

12-01-2009, 09:14 PM
(Ive never used a Z but WBs and other machinery but...) The one thing I would have to say is treat it like any piece of power equipment. You wouldnt use a power saw without proper safety equipment, and (I HOPE) you wouldnt drive without a seatbelt. I was told the car analogy, there is a reason you cant get your license without adaquate practice and experience, and even then you are not going to take your car up and down slippery wet/icy/snowy roads untill you have enough experience to do it safely. In the lawn mowing world wet hills are like snowy roads. It can be done by some, very experienced, and very careful people.

Also Im a fan of murphys law with power equipment. If it can go wrong Id put money on it going wrong. in fact the day I took the discharge shield off my mower I shot a metal tent stake out of the deck (dont know how it got in the lawn but it was there) Luckily no one and nothing was around to get injured, but had someone be in the line of fire it would have been a serious injury.

12-01-2009, 09:19 PM
Like others have said, take time to get used to the mower on FLAT ground first. Once you have a good feeling of the mower then you can move onto the hills. Take your time on hills and don't rush anything. You best bet will be to have the ROPS and wear your seatbelt when your cutting hills. If you don't get the ROPS, don't wear your seatbelt. I know my mowers will slide around on hills before they will flip, so if my mower starts to slide I know that I need to be careful and not go any steeper.

It will take time for you to get used to the mower and know its capabilities.

12-04-2009, 02:44 AM
always turn up hill if you mowing a larger hill sideways, if you are going mowing across a steep hill and the mower starts to roll disengage the blades and turn down the hill immediately. this should save you. never try to go down a steep hill straight because if its steep you just slide, always go on an angle.

12-05-2009, 12:06 AM
I have just purchased my first ZTR GreatDane Chariot for residential use.
I do have some small short steep hills to mow and would like some safety tips for mowing with a ZTR on hills and in general. My mower does not have ROP but it does have a seat belt.
What are the most common accidents that happen on a ZTR???

Use common sense and don't get in too big of a hurry, your brain will tell you what can get you hurt, the rest comes with seat time and feel.

12-06-2009, 10:33 PM
I have noticed sevral have said point the machine up hill. On a steep hill this is a no no. When we run steep grades on a z we run them at 30 - 45 degree angles up. So instead of straigh up you are going in a diagonal. Make sure the ROPs is on and seat belt. I used to think they where a pain until I had a creek bank sheer off under the mower. Oh yeah steady small easy movements no quick yerking of controls. also as many have said get very accustomed to the machine. Z's are awesome machines if respected.

12-06-2009, 11:16 PM
Rule # 1 Im the only one allowed to ride wheelies up trailer :cool2:

12-06-2009, 11:40 PM
ZTRs will not mow every thing out there remember that. Some slopes and hill sides are just to steep.

Try lowering the air pressure in all tires. Go slow and don't make fast or hasty maneuvers. straight lines on and off the hill side. My rule of thumb is if your cant walk up or down a hill top to bottom or walk across the slop without sliding, or getting off balance you most likely have no reason to us a ZTR. A walk behind or string timer is in order.

For me ROP and seat belts give a operator a false sense of safety. Yes you will not fall out and if you role over, you might not get crushed and killed. But its best to not subject you or your equipment to the chance of this type of accident.

If have seen many guys with ROP left up get in lots of trouble around guy wires, tree limbs and the like. After a while they leave them in the down position and never take the time to put them back up when on a hill. As you will find out in most cases most likely you will slide off the hill to steep to mow before your tip over. A 48" will tip much faster than a 60". Compared to a tractor your a lot better off using a ZTR. Good luck and use common sense and don't expect miracles.