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Oregon Man Fined $500 for Suggesting Longer Traffic Lights

Keely Sharp
Written by Keely Sharp

An Oregon man found a problem with traffic lights: the yellow light simply isn’t long enough. So he brought this to the attention of the state and it only snowballed from there. He now faces a $500 fine, and the yellow light time frame is still just as short…

What a world we live in, when we can be fined by our government for suggesting to lengthen a traffic light.

The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying hit Mats Järlström with a fine for unlawfully engaging in the “practice of engineering” by studying the state’s traffic flow systems.

Järlström, a former mechanic in the Swedish military, was slapped with the absurd penalty because his work contravenes licensing regulations in the state, according to the Institute for Justice.

He started his investigation into traffic lights after his wife got a ticket for turning right on a yellow light back in 2013. He wanted to know “how how exactly yellow lights are timed.”

Järlström found out that the formula used in traffic lights was deficient, and invented his own one, while corresponding with one of the formula’s original creators.

Järlström reached out to the scientific community, government authorities, and the media with his research in hopes of making a difference. However, he did not receive the answer he was hoping for.

His new formula ended up at the state’s Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying. But rather than appreciating his findings, the Board fined him $500 because he engaged in unlicensed “practice of engineering.”

According to the Board, Järlström had no right to criticize the length of yellow lights and talk about his ideas with “members of the public” because he’s not an Oregon-licensed engineer. The man was also told to stop referring himself using the word “engineer”, despite having a degree in electrical engineering from Sweden.

Surprise! Now Järlström counteractively suing the state of Oregon. He claims that he was well within the realms of his first amendment rights. What do you think?


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Keely Sharp

Keely Sharp

Keely is a 23-year-old conservative writer for many different sites, including While she lives in Georgia, she grew up in Florida. Keely is pro-life, Christian, and a member of the NRA. When she is not writing, she enjoys going to the range and hiking with her dogs.

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