New data shows more than 31K people died in crashes through September 2021

ORLANDO, Fla. — New data shows more than 31,000 people died on our country’s roads in the first three quarters of 2021.

The rate of the rise is the highest since the agency began record keeping in 1975.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has launched the first of its kind plan to address what he called the crisis from a federal level.

In a one-on-one interview with Channel 9 traffic anchor Alexa Lorenzo, Buttigieg broke down his new national roadway safety strategy.

“We would never accept 40,000 deaths a year on our railroads, or our subways or our airlines. Yet, as a country, I’m afraid we’ve gotten used to the idea that that’s going to happen on our roads,” he said.

READ: Dozens of flights canceled at Orlando International Airport due to huge winter storm

Under the new plan, the department will deliver direction as well as billions in grant money under the new infrastructure law to have states, cities and towns lower speed limits, embrace safer road design, dedicate bike and bus lanes as well as improve crosswalks and lighting.

“We got to move toward a vision of zero. As a matter of fact, Orlando is adopting a concept called ‘Vision Zero,’ the idea that the only acceptable number of roadway deaths is none,” Buttigieg said. “My department was proud to fund $600,000 in planning to help Orlando move forward with that.”

READ: ‘It’s scary’: FHP urges drivers to use caution after 2 die in separate crashes on Florida’s Turnpike

Orlando is infamously known as the deadliest city for pedestrians. So how does the strategy target that unfortunate title?

Buttigieg said, “You got to have safer roads and safer vehicles, safer vehicles. For example, encouraging the use of automated emergency brakes and we’re looking into ways to make it standard instead of an extra feature that you got to pay for.”

READ: ‘This murder has shaken our community’: 2 charged in connection with murder of elderly man at CVS

Buttigieg said he knows it is going to be a big undertaking, but he is leading the charge and wants everyone on board.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.