MUMS-to-be are being urged to add their car's tyres to their pre-birth checklist after it was revealed that one in four of the 700,000 new babies expected to be born in Britain this year could travel home in unsafe vehicles.
Tyresafe, the UK's tyre safety organisation, is launching an awareness campaign aimed specifically at pregnant women.
While heavily-pregnant mums may not be able to carry out the checks themselves, they should ask a partner or a local TyreSafe retailer to ensure their tyres' air pressure, condition and tread depth are safe and legal in anticipation of the most important journeys they will ever make - the trips to and from hospital, before and after the arrival of their new-born baby.
Pregnant 25-year-old Janine McCarthy knows only too well about the dangers after surviving a horror crash when a defective tyre on her car rapidly deflated, causing her vehicle to spin out of control and crash into the central reservation on a busy motorway near her home in Devon.
The car flipped six times before coming to a standstill and Janine says she thought she and her unborn baby were going to die.
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."
Amazingly Janine suffered only cuts and bruises and was taken by ambulance to hospital for checks and an emergency scan which revealed her unborn baby was absolutely fine. She is now looking forward to the birth, expected in March.
The mum-to-be is supporting TyreSafe's new campaign and added: "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' eed to to our pre-baby checklist.
"There is nothing more important than getting our new-born babies home safely."
Tyresafe discovered that 20 per cent of vehicles were potentially travelling unsafely ater checking more than 100,000 tyres in partnership with Highways England.