Today we’re opening the Shared Case Files again to look at a strange story we’re calling “Red Light Scam-era.” The hero of this bizarre case is Mats Järlström, an Oregon man who went looking for answers after his wife got a red light ticket.
Mats paid the fine, but his wife’s story made him curious. After a little digging – and we mean very little, he guesses it took just 40 minutes – Mats discovered a flaw in every single traffic camera which means they could be issuing unfair tickets.
You might think this discovery made him famous, or earned a prize, but 4 years later nothing has changed and Mats has received a second ticket.
Mats’ discovery is very simple – we promise, there’s no math in this explanation – when you see a yellow light you can either drive through it or stop. Those are the only 2 options a red light camera accounts for.
The problem is you can also turn right on a red light, which takes longer and isn’t illegal. Mats discovered that cameras aren’t programmed to account for right turns, meaning lots of people get tickets for doing something completely legal. Mats says this flaw is in the equation used by every single red light camera, making this a massive problem.
Mats tried to explain this to his local government but claimed he was “laughed out of City Hall.”
Instead of giving up, Mats released the information in a mass email to politicians and the media. But that only made things worse.
For his trouble Mats got a second fine for $500, this time for practicing engineering without a license.
While Mats studied as an engineer in Sweden, worked as a airplane mechanic and worked in Research and Development for a major tech company, he never got his certification here in the states, even though he called himself an “excellent engineer” in an e-mail about his idea.
While Mats worries about being fined again, he says it’s his “civic duty” to tell the truth, so he’ll keep trying.
“I don’t want any money. I just want information to be known about the traffic signals, and how I was treated.”
Share this story if you think his treatment was totally unfair!