A CHEMICAL tanker driver battled to keep his lorry on the road after young thugs hurled a brick through his windscreen on a dual-carriageway, it emerged yesterday.

Cleveland Police believe the youths deliberately targeted the vehicle and hid behind crash barriers before launching their attack, on the slip road leading off the A19 on to the A66, near Middlesbrough.

The tanker was empty, but police said if the driver had lost control the consequences would have been disastrous.

Despite being showered with broken glass from the windscreen the driver, Bob Atkinson, 52, from Normanby, used his 20 years' driving experience to stop the vehicle.

A police spokesman said: "He has done extremely well. If he had lost control and crashed, it could have been an absolute major disaster.

"It seems the kids deliberately targeted the tanker. It was an absolutely mindless act and we need to find out those responsible."

Mr Atkinson's boss, TDG depot manager Alan Walsh, said: "It is absolutely astonishing that these individuals can carry out such a foolish act."

The incident comes days after five cars and a taxi were pelted with metal, thrown from bridges on Tyneside.

A bus windscreen was shattered by a brick three hours after a Renault Clio was "bombed" from a bridge at Bishop Auckland, in January.

The side window of another bus was smashed by a brick at Trimdon Grange and four stones were thrown at cars from a railway bridge in Darlington, last December.