In stark contrast to a steady decline in recent years, the number of people killed or seriously injured in the UK in a tyre-related accident increased sharply in 2011.

The alarming figures, released by the UK's Department for Transport, reveal that 205 people were killed or seriously injured in an accident where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor.

Worryingly, the shocking statistic is an 8% rise on the previous year's figures and goes against a year-on-year decrease since safety organisation TyreSafe was established.

"These latest figures are very disturbing, especially given that the number of casualties in all road accidents also rose for the first time in many years," said Stuart Jackson, Chairman, TyreSafe.

"It really does reinforce the need for drivers to regularly inspect their tyres to make sure they are safe and legal. October's tyre safety month is the perfect opportunity to carry out some basic tyre checks and help put a stop to this needless loss of life.

"We're aware that in these ongoing tough economic times, some drivers are running their tyres longer than normal or perhaps switching to part-worn tyres when they need replacing. But our message is clear: you can't compromise or take chances with tyre safety.

"By trying to save a few pounds, you could actually pay a much higher price in the long-run. By spending just a few minutes each month to check the condition of your tyres, not only can it actually help you to save money, but more importantly it will help keep you safe during the treacherous winter months."