Lead author Dr. Colin West, an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said the Mayo Clinic residents attributed the traffic incidents to fatigue and to distress -- including feelings of burnout or depression.
The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, said 11 percent had traffic crashes, 43 percent reported narrowly avoiding them.
To gather the data, participants completed surveys quarterly from July 1, 2007, through July 31, 2011, during their training period. Associations of validated measures of quality of life, burnout, symptoms of depression, fatigue and sleepiness with a subsequently reported blood and body fluid exposure or motor vehicle incident were determined from these survey results.
"The mere fact that motor vehicle incidents are common among residents brings the issues of resident fatigue, sleepiness and distress to a new level of priority," West said in a statement. "New interventions designed to address both resident fatigue and distress may be needed to promote patient and resident safety."