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Policy Entrepreneurship at the Dorr Foundation

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A look at the Dorr Foundation and how a nonprofit changed traffic engineering in the United States.

A look at the Dorr Foundation and how a nonprofit changed traffic engineering in the United States.

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  • 1. Policy Entrepreneurship at the Dorr Foundation
      • PUAD 777
      • Political Economy of Nonprofit Organizations
      • University of Baltimore
      • Baltimore, Maryland
      • 5 May 2008
  • 2. Overview
    • John V.N. Dorr proposed policy to paint shoulder of highway
    • After resistance from state highway officials, Dorr Foundation sponsored multi-state test
    • Test showed effectiveness in preventing accidents
    • Dorr Foundation provided information to policy-makers nationwide on effectiveness
    • Highway shoulder lines now common nationally
  • 3. John Van Nostrand Dorr
    • Born 1896, died 1962
    • Metallurgical engineer & inventor:
      • Dorr thickener: settles and thickens pulp
      • Dorr classifier: separates fine and coarse material in ore pulp
    • Worked for Thomas Edison
    • Founded his own companies:
      • Dorr Cyanide Machinery Company (1910)‏
      • Dorr Company (1916)‏
    (Anonymous 1962)‏
  • 4. Dorr Foundation of New York
    • Established in 1950
    • Grant-making foundation
      • Scientific research
      • Post-retirement utilization of professionals
      • Educational projects for youth
      • Support for other organizations in field
      • Focused on chemistry and metallurgy
    • Generally meets normalized definition of charitable activities
    (Schindler 2007; Fishman and Schwarz 2006, pp. 87-88)‏
  • 5. Problem: Driving in the dark
    • Headlights of opposing traffic can disable vision
    • Drivers may hug center line
      • May sideswipe opposing traffic
    • Drivers may veer to outside
      • May run off road at a curve
    (Ingraham 1955)‏
  • 6. Solution: White Shoulder Line
    • Marks outside boundary of road
    • Creates lane between shoulder line and center line
    • Dorr attempts to persuade Connecticut Department of Highways
      • Letter in 1952
      • Series of letters in local newspapers
    • Connecticut tested on Merritt Parkway in 1954
    • New York tested on Hutchinson River Parkway in 1954
    (Schindler 2007; Anonymous 1954)‏
  • 7. The Safety Stripe
    • New York Times photograph of an experimental shoulder stripe in 1957
    • Sign: “Stay in Line”
    (Ingraham 1957)‏
  • 8. Resistance to Change
    • The public demanded the lines after results showed significant decrease in accidents
    • Many highway officials believed studies were tainted by various effects
    • Cost predicted at $150/mile for striping
      • $1150 in 2007 dollars
    • By 1957, the shoulder line was considered "highly controversial"
    (Ingraham 1957; Schindler 2007)‏
  • 9. Initial Role of the Foundation
    • Dorr redirects Foundation into highway safety
    • Coordinates and funds a four-state study (1957)‏
      • 7500 miles of stripes installed in CT, NJ, OH, RI
      • Already standard in UT; limited use in AZ, LA, MD, MA, MS, OR, and VA
    • The Dorr Foundation study
      • 19% decrease in accidents
      • 35% decrease in nighttime accidents
      • 37% decrease in fatalities and injuries
    (Ingraham, 1957; Schindler 2007)‏
  • 10. The Foundation's Expanded Role
    • Following successful test results
    • Provided general information about the studies
      • Further test results
      • Record of adoption
      • Worked with other highway safety groups and state departments
    • Fifty years later, shoulder lines are common on highways
    (Jones 1999)‏
  • 11. The Nature of Legacy
    • Foundation as legacy
      • Dorr Foundation is model for using family funds to pursue goals of family
      • Foundation provided structure and ability to meet objectives set by Dorr and his wife
    • Family legacy
      • Family continues to advocate for safety
      • In 1974, John V. N. Dorr II worked for speed limit on West River in Maryland
    (Jones 1999; Graves 1974)‏
  • 12. References
    • Anonymous (1954, January 9). Night driving test on; Connecticut parkway curbings painted white to aid autoists. The New York Times , 17.
    • Anonymous (1962, July 1). John van Nostrand Dorr dies; metallurgist, 90, was inventor; designs put to world-wide use in mining industry-aided highway safety crusade for safety invented classifier educated by mother set up foundation in '50. The New York Times , 57.
    • Fishman, J. J. and S. Schwarz (2006). Nonprofit Organizations (Third ed.). University Casebook Series. New York: Foundation Press.
    • Graves, A. (1974, May 26). Speed limit urged for river. The Washington Post , D13.
    • Ingraham, J. C. (1955, January 5). Line on road's edge is cutting accidents. The New York Times , 1-18.
    • Ingraham, J. C. (1957, September). Automobiles: Edges; controversial right shoulder line to be tested for safety value four-state test New York's viewpoint. The New York Times , X33.
    • Jones, M. F. (1999). The other family tree: Leaving your legacy in a private foundation. Albany Law Review 63 (2), 567-592.
    • Schindler, S. (2007). Preventing crashes on america's highways. In J. L. Fleishman, S. J. Kohler, and S. Schindler (Eds.), Casebook for The Foundation: A Great American Secret , pp. 66-70. New York: Public Affairs.
  • 13.  

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