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Road oil — unanticipated crash risk on British Columbia roads

Drivers in Vancouver and other cities in British Columbia are often caught unawares by unexpected slippery conditions on roadways. Oil residue is typically invisible, like black ice, leading to road accidents with potentially devastating consequences. The oil hazard on the tarmac is most significant on wet weather days, mainly when precipitation occurs after a dry-weather spell.   

Vancouver has a long rainy season, stretching from October through March. Motorists face the risk of losing control of their vehicles due to road surface oil residue for half the year. Yet, lives are still lost each year, and severe injuries occur because slick roads catch drivers off guard due to hidden oil residues. 

The science of oil residue hazards

Vehicles deposit minimal amounts of oil on the tarmac as they travel, causing the buildup of dangerous levels of oil residue. Frequent heavy rainfall can wash the residue away. However, light rain only brings the residue to the surface, and the risks are exacerbated after extended periods of dry weather. 

The danger of the oil residue is invisible as it forms a thin layer on the road surface. When vehicles travel on the affected roads, the oil forms a thin layer between the tarmac and the vehicle’s wheels. The driver could quickly lose control of the car as it skids across the road when that happens. 

Drivers in British Columbia are expected to adapt their driving techniques to prevailing conditions. Therefore, if an out-of-control car collides with other vehicles, causing damage, the driver might be held responsible for negligence. Injured crash victims or the surviving family members of deceased victims might have grounds to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, as applicable, to pursue recovery of monetary damages like medical expenses, lost wages, end-of-life costs and even pain and suffering.