courtesy drive

An SUV darts in front of you without signaling. The car behind you honks when you break. Someone else gives you the finger because you’re where they want to be.

Like many California drivers, Ed Thomas knows this scenario all too well. But unlike most, he’s taking action. His organization, the Eyes & Ears Foundation, has commissioned a number of local artists to create billboards that chide drivers into exercising a bit more common courtesy on the road.

A campaign launching in December is part of the nonprofit’s effort to bring art into public spaces. The theme is: “What, me hurry?”

Thomas, the group’s director and, he admits, a recovering roadhog, saw it as an opportunity to bring sanity to the notoriously chaotic California roadways. “It’s total anarchy,” he fumes. “It’s like they strap on battle armor when they get in their cars.”

The billboards are tied to the 25th annual ARTboard Festival and will pop up in about 30 high-traffic areas around Los Angeles and San Francisco. The effort supports the National Highway Transportation Safety Association and its work.

Thomas insists the elevated art will not backfire by further distracting California drivers. “I don’t think billboards are that much of a distraction,” he says. “It’s not like having a TV in the car.”