Lawn tractors can be useful tools in the maintenance of your lawn but, it's important to know that a lawn mower tractor holds potential danger for the unwary operator. One of the ways lawn tractor manufacturers make these pieces of equipment safer is through the addition of safety switches. The purpose of these switches it to prevent personal injury while operating a lawn mower tractor. There are several key safety switches that interact with other lawn tractor parts to make mowing safer.
Reverse Safety Switch
Most lawn tractors have a reverse cutoff switch. This switch, typically mounted on the tractor transmission near the gear selector, is used to stop the mower engine when the tractor is put into reverse with the mower blades engaged. This prevents the operator from accidentally backing over an obstacle with the blades in motion. This is particularly important given the lack of visibility to the rear of the mower. On some lawn tractors, there is an override switch installed which requires you to press a button or lever to override the safety switch and have the mower blades operate while the tractor is in reverse.
Seat Kill Switch
An additional safety switch is located under the driver's seat of the lawn tractor. This switch is designed to shut the tractor off if the operator loses contact with the seat for any reason while the mower blades are in operation and the transmission is in gear with the parking brake off. The tractor will continue to run while the parking brake is engaged and the mower blades are not spinning. This protects the operator in the event of a rollover, flip or bounce out of the seat and potentially, into the path of the spinning mower blades. Once the operator leaves the seat, power to the engine is immediately cut and the engine and blades stop. This switch gives the operator a few seconds to regain the seat should it be just a bump that temporarily dislodged the operator. While this is occurring, the lawn tractor will backfire as the engine spark is interrupted.
Gear Safety Switch
This safety switch is designed to prevent the operator from starting the lawn tractors engine with the transmission engaged. It normally operates by requiring the operator to depress the brake/clutch pedal to it's stop in order to start the engine. This switch is also instrumental in allowing the tractor to run with no weight on the operators seat only while the parking brake is engaged.This prevents the lawn tractor from jumping forward and injuring either the operator or any bystanders with an out of control piece of equipment.
It's very important for safe operation of your lawn tractor that these safety switches are functioning correctly. These switches should be inspected and tested before operating the mower and as part of your normal maintenance schedule. When these switches fail, the failure typically inhibits the start of your lawn tractor engine. The switch should be replaced with the correct part from the manufacturer to ensure continued safe operation.