KITCHENER -- A terrifying incident on Highway 401 is serving as a cautionary tale as drivers swap out their winter tires this spring.

Police say a driver has been charged after a loose tire flew off of their vehicle and smashed into another driver's windshield.

"I looked back and thought this is it, I'm going to die and this is the end," described Lisa McNeil.

McNeil was driving to Kitchener from North York yesterday, when a tire flew off of another vehicle bouncing across the highway and into her windshield. Incredibly, she walked away from the crash with only a few scrapes.

"Her vehicle was absolutely destroyed. Had that tire been just a few inches towards her side I don't think we would have this story today, we'd be dealing with a fatality," said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

A police investigation revealed that the three remaining wheels were all found loose and had been changed last week. The driver has been charged with detached part.

"This is the time of the year, spring shoulder season between winter and summer, and in fall, when we typically see a spike in wheel separations," Schmidt explained.

It's an incident that police say could have been prevented. They're advising drivers to be observant after making the switch.

According to Chris Tsegas, owner of Kitchener's Fowler Tire, while it is always a good idea to take a look at your vehicle after your tires have been swapped, one of the best ways to tell if something has been done improperly is by listening to it.

"If they get their car back and if the car is making any signs of noises that weren't there before, definitely bring it back," he advised.

Drivers should also consider getting their tires retorqued within 100 kilometres of driving. Tsegas says cleaning the back of the hubs is paramount to a wheel fitting properly and a practice he enforces at his shop.

"A lot of times the shops don't have the time because they're super busy, they just bolt the tire on, torque them but then as they start to drive the tires will become loose."

He adds that using the right size wheel nuts is also important, along with regular maintenance.