Riding lawn mowers are tailor-made for people who have large expanses of property to maintain. Though such mowers initially may have been created for commercial landscapers, eventually private citizens realized the benefits of owning a riding mower for the maintenance of their own properties.

A riding mower can considerably reduce the time and effort that goes into mowing the lawn. Today’s riding mowers can do everything from cutting to mulching to blowing leaves and snow.

Despite their convenience and availability, riding mowers are not a piece of machinery that should be taken lightly. Various health statistics point to riding mowers as a major cause of injury and emergency room visits each year. A Johns Hopkins University study found more than 80,000 Americans are injured every year while mowing, and around 95 annual deaths can be attributed to riding mower accidents.

To ensure safety to yourself and others, heed these tips for operating your riding mower correctly.

* Look for a mower where the blade turns off if the machine tips or if the driver leaves the seat.

• Wear goggles and earbuds when operating the mower to avoid eye and ear injury.

• Remove sticks, toys, rocks, and other items from the lawn before mowing.

• Operate the mower up and down a slope instead of sideways to maintain stability.

• Never fuel a hot engine.

• Do not let children ride the mower alone or in tandem with an adult.

Riding mowers take a lot of the work out of lawn projects, but riders must emphasize safety when operating a riding mower.