According to research by TyreSafe, last year, 9.639 people were convicted in England and Wales for driving with dangerous or defective tyres.

A defective tyre is not simply of academic interest. In 2011, there were more than 1,200 casualties resulting from accidents caused by illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres.

"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."

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.

TyreSafe points out that tyres are the only point of contact between the car and the road, so any problem with a tyre is going to affect everything to do with braking and handling. The most sophisticated anti lock brakes and electronic traction control systems are going to be of no value if a car with bald tyres starts aquaplaning on a wet road.

Given the current weather conditions, that is a real risk, and there are few things more scary than realising your tyres have just lost contact with the road when you are driving on a wet motorway. You are suddenly a passenger in a car that has no driver.