The number of motorists driving with defective tyres remains at a very dangerous and worrying level, warns TyreSafe, following figures recently released by the Ministry of Justice.

The shocking statistics reveal that the number of people successfully convicted in England and Wales in 2011 at a Magistrates court for driving with dangerous or defective tyres was a massive 9,639.

TyreSafe claims the true scale of illegal tyres is probably much higher as the figures do not take into account tyre-related matters dealt with by the police at the roadside.

However, most alarming was that defective tyres accounted for more than two-thirds of the ‘vehicle defects’ category which also includes items such as brakes and steering components.

“Tyres play a vital role in road safety so these latest figures are very worrying,” comments Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “Not only is there still a high level of ignorance about tyre care, but perhaps even more alarming is that many motorists continue to drive on tyres that they know are illegal or dangerous.”

“But that is like playing Russian roulette as the tyre is the only part of the car in contact with the road and, therefore, makes them vitally important to how a car performs.”

Current UK law requires car drivers to have a minimum of 1.6mm tread depth across the central three quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

Last year there were more than 1,200 casualties resulting from accidents caused by illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres.

However, TyreSafe claims that since its inception in 2006,  its ctivities have helped reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in a tyre related accident by 38 per cent. The Association offers a a host of tyre safety information and advice for motorists on its website

“The purchase of essential safety items, such as tyres, cannot be ignored, even with the economic pinch putting a squeeze on household budgets.

“If you drive with illegal or defective tyres then you not only risk your own life and that of your passengers and other road users, but you could also end up with a heavy fine and points on your driving licence,” added Jackson.