Oregon State Board Fines Man For Speaking Out Against Outdated Traffic Lights

Do you think that state and federal government agencies overreach into our daily lives and cause more harm than good at times? If so, then you share the same opinion as I do. While some regulation is necessary and protects the public, workers and our environment, there are cases where state licensing and regulatory agencies actually cause harm and infringe upon our rights. An excellent example of this is a case involving Mats Järlström, who is an Oregon resident.


Mats Jarlstrom criticized the formula used for traffic lights after his wife got one after she turned through a red light. Mr. Jarlstrom studied the traffic light formulas and found out that the city of Beaverton has traffic light formulas for changing yellow lights that date all the way back to 1959. Furthermore, the city’s traffic lights formula is designed for driving straight through and not turning.


Mats Jarlstrom did some research and concluded that the current traffic light formula does not accurately represent real life vehicle behavior. When people turn on a yellow light, they slow down in order to make the turn. The outdated system does not take this into account. By not taking this into account, the traffic formula is not appropriate argued Mats Jarlstrom. Cities like Beaverton meanwhile have started levying tickets for drivers who drive through red lights as well as ones who turn through red lights.


Jarlstrom, who is a native of Sweden and has an engineering background, then famously complained to the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying to look into the issue of stoplights and to apply new research and information to the formulas used in the lights. Instead of a thank you or taking a look, he got a fine of $500 and what can be described as a censorship threat. The Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying said that Mats Jarlstrom was practicing unlicensed engineering and that he is prohibited by referring to himself as an engineer or he could face legal consequences.


This is of course absurd. Citizens like Mats have the right to criticize and give feedback of the government and its services. Cases such as these are actually much more common than you think. Mats Jarlstrom is currently suing the board of examiners for infringing on his first amendment and I believe rightly so. We need to cut red tape and regulations and protect free speech from the overreach of state and federal bureaucracies.