A study has revealed that more than a quarter of new-born babies are making their first journey home from hospital on illegal or dangerous tyres.
The shocking statistic comes from a TyreSafe survey of more than 100,000 tyres at the point of replacement conducted in partnership with Highways England.
With this in mind, TyreSafe - the UK's tyre safety organisation - is launching a brand new awareness campaign, 'Home safely on safe tyres', aimed at pregnant women, encouraging them to add CHECK TYRES to their pre-birth checklist in anticipation of the trips to and from hospital, before and after the arrival of their new-born babies.
While heavily-pregnant mums may not be able to carry out the checks themselves, they should ask a partner or local TyreSafe retailer to ensure their tyres' air pressure, condition and tread depth are safe and legal.
25-year old mum-to-be Janine McCarthy, is a vocal supporter of the campaign, having had a miraculous escape after a defective tyre on her car rapidly deflated, causing her to spin out of control and crash into the central reservation on a busy motorway. The car flipped six times before coming to a standstill.
She said: "I remember the back wheels of the car skidding so I applied the brake gently, but as I did this, the car skidded right round out of control.
I could see on-coming traffic and I panicked, braking harder. It caused the car to tip and start to roll and smash into the central metal fencing. It was terrifying. Witnesses told me afterwards that the car smashed into the barrier, flew to the opposite barrier, and then rolled down into the middle of a field.
I recall my arms being crossed in front of my face and the airbag going off. I felt dizzy and remember thinking 'this is it, I'm going to die'.
When the car came to a standstill I laughed out of shock that I was ok. I was petrified that something had happened to my baby; I was nearly three months pregnant at the time and had been waiting for my first scan. I started screaming 'help me' as I noticed blood. The emergency services told me they couldn't believe I had walked away from the crash alive."
Janine was taken by ambulance to hospital for checks and an emergency scan. Thankfully she escaped the ordeal with just minor cuts and bruises - and her unborn baby was absolutely fine. Janine is now looking forward to the birth, expected in March.
She explained: "TyreSafe's campaign is so important and I want everyone to listen and act on the message 'Home safely on safe tyres'. I was lucky, but defective and illegal tyres can ruin lives. As new mums-to-be, we pack our hospital bags with everything we need and check our baby car seats - but we need to add CHECK TYRES to our pre-baby checklist. There is nothing more important than getting our new-born babies home safely."
For further information on the 'Home safely on safe tyres' campaign visit the TyreSafe website at www.tyresafe.org.