We hear a lot about how dangerous distracted driving and drunk driving are, but federal safety officials want the public to know that drowsy driving can be just as bad.

Most of us have been tired while driving at some point in our lives. Maybe it was after the arrival of a child, when sleep deprivation is as common as diaper changes. Or maybe it was during the overnight leg of a long road trip. Or perhaps it was on the way to work after a sleepless night.

While fatigued driving is a common experience for many Americans, that doesn’t mean that it’s safe. 

That’s why the federal government has announced plans to investigate the extent of the problem of fatigued driving in the United States, and then do something to prevent it, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Federal officials say that drowsy driving represents the third of three “Ds” that are often the cause behind many preventable accidents, along with drunk driving and distracted driving. But most Americans view drowsy driving to be more innocent than the other two.

While not everyone drinks and drives or texts while behind the wheel, driving while fatigued is a problem affecting many people, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently said in a speech at a safety conference on Highway Safety Priorities.

At this point, very little is known about the exact prevalence of drowsy driving, but what is known is that falling asleep behind the wheel while traveling 70 mph often has tragic results. It is believed that anywhere from 2 to 20 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by over-tired drivers.

Check back tomorrow for more on this important issue.