In theory, falling asleep behind the wheel seems very easy to avoid. If you are so tired that you may pass out at any moment, stay out of the car. But is it really that simple?

It’s not. People often have no idea how tired they truly are or how much danger they’re putting everyone else in when they start driving.

“People are horrible judges of their own sleepiness,” said the man who ran the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the previous presidential administration. “Our brains can put us to sleep anytime.”

He especially warned about “microsleeping,” which happens when the brain essentially falls asleep for just a couple seconds. Many people have no idea that this is happening while it happens and may not even know it happened after the fact. Still, just two or three seconds could cause a car accident.

The statistics back that up. Many experts think that drowsy driving leads to about 7 percent of motor vehicle accidents. Frighteningly, it leads to 21 percent of deadly wrecks. When asked, about 37 percent of people in one survey claimed they had drifted off to sleep behind the wheel. Around 4 percent claimed it had happened in the last 30 days, while 11 percent said it happened in the last 12 months.

This is clearly a common problem that people do not fully understand. It can have deadly consequences. If another driver falls asleep and hits you, putting you in the hospital with high medical bills, you have to know all of the legal options you have to seek out financial compensation.