Engineering professional associations spend lots of money and time trying to get engineers to communicate better with the public. But now the Institute for Justice has taken up the cause of an engineer fined $500 for speaking about engineering and how the government got it wrong.
Oregon electrical engineer Mats Jarlstrom was irritated when his wife got a traffic ticket for running a red light, and even more so when he looked at the light-timing formula Oregon used for yellow lights. He tracked down the professor who formulated the equation for yellow light timing in 1959, who said that the formula had been mis-used in Jarlstrom’s case because she was turning, not going straight. Jarlstrom then began a three-year crusade to educate the public and public officials about how this mis-used formula “sets people up for tickets they can’t avoid.”
The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying investigated Jarlstrom’s efforts, and decided he wasn’t the right kind of engineer to opine about traffic signal timing. He was fined $500 because he engaged in “the unlicensed practice of engineering.”
So IJ sued on Jarlstrom’s behalf.