PHOENIX - A large piece of debris on the Loop 101 made for some scary moments for Phoenix resident Monica Lanter.

"Well I saw it coming. It was like a missile," Lanter said. "I'm sure there was a pretty strong prayer said."

Lanter was driving northbound on L-101 in Chandler last week right behind a handyman when all of a sudden, she said a large door in the bed of his truck came flying out.

"Wind just picked up this door. I didn't know it was a door at the time and it just swirled up in the air and it came tumbling down," said Lanter.

It came down right onto Lanter's car.

"It was very loud. It was like an explosion. And it really was an explosion. The door just went into a million pieces," she said.

Lanter's terrifying tale is common, according to DPS Captain Tony Mapp.

"That debris and those things can happen anywhere on the freeway," said Mapp.

According to AAA, debris coming loose from cars traveling on highways causes more than 200,000 crashes per year in the United States.

It's a problem prevalent during the holidays. AAA estimates 20 million Americans did not secure their Christmas trees to their cars properly over the past three years.

"It's a good time of year to be careful when following behind vehicles," said Mapp.

DPS says switch lanes when you see a car with a large item in front of you. If the item does come loose and you can't avoid it, pull over and call the police. The person transporting that item is responsible for any damage.

Lanter's car is now in the shop covered in scratches and dents, but she knows the damage could have been much worse.

"I'll tell you it's given me, it's seriously given me a new lease on life," said Lanter.

If you are caught with an unsecured item in Arizona, you could face a fine of at least $500.