Drivers are being urged to prepare for stormy weather this week and plan ahead before setting out.

Britain is bracing itself for Storm Agnes, a deep area of low pressure that will affect much of the UK on Wednesday and Thursday. 

High winds pose a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes.

National Highways is advising drivers to slow down and avoid using exposed sections of road if possible.  They are also being urged to top up their oil, fuel and, screen wash, take a rest break every two hours on journeys, check their tyre pressures and thread, and have a plan for all weather conditions. 

Its website offers guidance on how to stay as safe as possible on A-roads and motorways.

National network manager Steve Basterfield said: "With stormy weather being forecast it is important to plan ahead and, if conditions become challenging, adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care. 

“We have a section on our website dedicated to travelling amid storms, high winds and gales, and considerations for different types of vehicle.

"It’s a good idea for people to check their tyres, coolant, and oil levels before heading out to reduce the risk of breakdowns."

The Met Office's chief meteorologist, Matthew Lehnert, added: "Storm Agnes will approach southwest Ireland early on Wednesday and track northeast across Northern Ireland and Scotland before clearing on Thursday morning.

"Gusts of 45-55 mph are expected widely inland and 50-60 mph over hills and around coasts.  

"The strongest winds are expected to affect Northern Ireland, southwest Scotland, west and northwest Wales, Cumbria, and Lancashire where some places inland may see gusts of 60 mph and 65-75 mph over hills and around coasts.

"These are most likely during the second half of Wednesday afternoon and through the evening."  

A Yellow Warning for wind has been issued for a large area of the UK. Warnings will be reviewed in the coming days as the course and strength of Storm Agnes becomes clearer. 

The Met Office says Storm Agnes could damage buildings as well as causing power cuts in parts of the UK. Travel disruption is also likely, with some roads and bridges likely to close.

National Highways uses roadside signs to warn drivers of possible high winds or side winds.

It also monitors the road network for debris and uses specialist equipment to remove it as quickly as possible.  During severe weather some structures may need to be closed to some or all vehicles. Where possible, signed diversion routes are put in place. 

What National Highways advises:

Travelling in strong winds and gales 

High winds can blow your vehicle off course or other vehicles into your path. Some vehicles are affected by high winds more than others.  

 Vulnerable Vehicles 

Certain types of vehicles are more prone to the effects of high winds – motorhomes, vans, Transit vans with modifications, vehicles towing trailers or caravans, motorcycles, and tippers, double deckers buses, articulated HGVS, abnormal loads, car transporters, high-sided HGVs.

If your vehicle is susceptible to high-wind conditions, consider delaying your journey until weather conditions improve if you can. 

When you’re on the road 

Slow down and keep focused on the road ahead - you may encounter debris blown in by the wind.

Avoid using exposed sections of road if possible. Lorries, caravans and motorbikes are at particular risk. 

Use both hands on the steering wheel to keep good control of your vehicle -gusts of wind can cause your vehicle to shake.

Look out for gaps in trees or buildings, or when crossing bridges – you’re more likely to encounter side winds.

Keep room on either side of your vehicle to allow for it being blown sideways .

Watch out for side winds when passing larger high-sided vehicles - keep room on either side of your vehicle to allow for it being blown sideways .