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Heather McCartney calls for traffic safety

Wife of ex-Beatle to do ads to promote accident prevention
/ Source: The Associated Press

Heather Mills McCartney, wife of the former Beatle, said she will appear in public service ads without her prosthetic leg to provoke attention to the 1.2 million traffic deaths that occur worldwide each year.

McCartney’s left leg was severed below the knee when she was hit by a police motorcycle in 1993. Nearly 20 years earlier, her mother had lost a leg in a traffic accident.

“It took one human error to take my leg and one human error to take my mother’s,” McCartney said Wednesday at a kickoff of the World Health Organization’s yearlong focus on traffic safety.

She said many traffic deaths and injuries could be prevented if nations would focus on improving safety.

“You really can fix this. It’s just about more awareness,” said McCartney, who married ex-Beatle Paul McCartney in June 2002.

The televised public service announcements featuring McCartney, a model who also works to help children maimed by war, will be broadcast worldwide this year.

The World Health Organization found that traffic crashes will kill 2.3 million people annually by 2020.

President Bush called road safety “a significant worldwide health issue” in a taped message played at the WHO gathering. He said increased use of seat belts, federal vehicle safety standards and enforcement of laws have helped reduce U.S. deaths.

World Bank Vice President David De Ferranti called traffic deaths “an unequal killer” because 90 percent occur in low- or middle-income countries. In 2002, traffic crashes killed 28 out of every 100,000 people in Africa, compared to 14 out of every 100,000 in the United States.