Road safety charity, Brake, is urging motorists to take vehicle maintenance more seriously after a survey revealed that many people risk their safety by failing to carry out basic vehicle checks or by driving regardless of whether there may be a problem with their vehicle.

Almost half (45%) of people surveyed said that they had driven with at least one risky vehicle problem in the last year, while more than one quarter (27%) admitted that they were not confident in how to make essential vehicle checks, such as checking whether tyres are in a safe, legal condition or whether brakes are working properly.

The survey also revealed that men were willing to take more risks by driving with a known defect, while women were less confident about maintenance checks.

According to the Department for Transport vehicle defects contributed towards 2,000 road traffic collisions during 2013, 42 of which resulted in fatalities.

Helen Williams, a senior road accident solicitor, based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Bristol office, said: “The results of this survey reveal that a worrying proportion of people are taking unnecessary and highly dangerous risks by driving vehicles with defects or faults.

“If you are aware of a defect with your car, and continue to drive it, you are putting your own life and the lives of those around you at risk. Serious injuries resulting from road traffic accidents can prove to be life-changing or, in the worst cases, fatal. Any possible precaution drivers can take to prevent causing an accident must be adopted.

“While driving a car is second nature for many people, a high proportion of drivers clearly do not understand how to, or fail to, undertake the most basic checks before getting behind the wheel. These checks could be the difference between stopping or causing a road traffic accident.”