Perhaps you binged watched your favorite show last night and didn’t get to bed until the early morning hours. Maybe a young child kept you up due to an illness. Perhaps you just couldn’t sleep for some unknown reason. Regardless of what caused it, you struggled to get out of bed this morning, and you aren’t sure that extra cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage will help.

Even so, you get behind the wheel of your car and head out for the day. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you join hundreds of thousands of people here in Florida and across the country who drive despite being tired and sleep deprived. In today’s society, many people simply don’t get enough sleep, but they don’t consider it a problem when they drive. The fact of the matter is that drowsy driving is dangerous.

It’s worse than you think

Now that you are thinking about the last time you drove when you hadn’t had enough sleep, you may understand why people say it’s dangerous. What may alarm you further is that the problem is worse than you think. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study that revealed the number of crashes involving drowsy drivers could be as much as eight times higher than the government reports.

It’s not that the government is trying to hide the problem; it’s just difficult to account for drowsiness as a factor in a crash. No blood or breath test can indicate that a driver fell asleep at the wheel or was just too tired to react quickly and effectively in an emergency. The AAA study discovered drowsiness as a factor in around 9.5 to 10.8 percent of serious crashes. The government’s estimate hovers between one and two percent.

As high as 35 percent of the population fails to get the recommended seven or more hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means that at any given time, you could share the road with a sleep deprived — and dangerous — driver. Surveys indicate that around 29 percent of participants admitted to driving when they knew they were too tired to safely do so.

It’s as dangerous as you think

You may be included in the approximate 96 percent of people who believe drowsy driving is dangerous. In fact, you may know due to personal experience. If you suffered serious injuries in a crash involving a drowsy driver, you may now understand better than most why it’s so hazardous. This negligent behavior needs more awareness in order to help curb it.