At least fifteen children’s lives could be saved every year if adults refused to allow youngsters to ride on riding mowers or garden tractors, and kept children from playing in the area when the machines were being used.
Outdoor power equipment manufacturers and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offer these safety suggestions for operating riding mowers and tractors around the home:
- Never allow children to ride on garden tractors or riding mowers as passengers.
- Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor powered equipment is being used nearby. Young children move quickly and are attracted to the mower and the mowing activity, especially if they have been given rides before.
- Never assume children will remain where you last saw them. Be alert and turn the mower off if children enter the area. Use extra care when approaching corners, shrubs and trees.
- Never allow children to operate a riding mower or tractor, even under adult supervision.
According to the CPSC, some accidents involving children on riding mowers and tractors reflect the need for greater adult supervision and safety:
- A three-year-old Kentucky girl, riding on the front of a riding mower operated by her grandmother, fell to the ground and was run over, causing injuries to the left arm, leg and abdomen. The girl subsequently died.
- A South Carolina mother was distracted while operating a riding mower, and accidentally backed over and killed her two-year-old son who had left the steps of their mobile home and was standing behind the mower.
- A two-year-old Tennessee girl darted out in front of a riding mower operated by her 10-year-old brother and was killed when the machine ran over her.
- A three-year-old Minnesota girl was killed when a riding mower operated by her mother accidentally ran over her.
CPSC said one of every five deaths associated with riding mowers and garden tractors involve children under the age of 10. Deaths often occur when children fall off the mower and are run over by the machine, or when children run or fall in the path of the mower and are run over.
A survey showed that 54 percent of households with children under 10 years of age allow youngsters to ride on the tractor or riding mower. This extremely unsafe practice continues despite labels and warnings to the contrary provided by outdoor power equipment manufacturers.