Melvin Myers, a professor at Emory University, recently wrote an editorial about the importance of ROPS on zero turn mowers. In the article he argued that without ROPS this kind of mower is likely to become a deathtrap for it’s riders because of the way it is built.
Zero turn mowers function by the two steering arms that sit right above the riders lap. The arms can be pushed forward, moving the mower forward and when pulled back, the machine goes into reverse. When the arms are moved in the opposite direction the mower makes a zero degree turn.
With the arms located above the operator’s lap, they can act as a restraint, somewhat like a seat belt. In the absence of ROPS it is recommended that tractor operators don’t use restraint devices such as seat belts, to allow them to eject from the seat if the tractor is overturned. Myers argues that the same should be true on the zero turn mowers. If restraint devices are in place, then ROPS should be used. The only difference is that zero turn mowers, because of the way the steering arms operate, will always come with driver restraint. So in theory, the machine should also come with ROPS to protect the driver who cannot physically escape if an overturn should happen. The steering arms would simply not allow it. What do you think? Are zero turn mowers without ROPS just a deathtrap after all?