SYDNEY, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The government of Australia's Victoria State has rejected a proposal by a parliamentary inquiry to lower the state's driving age to 17.
The recommendation by the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee would have brought driving laws in Victoria in line with laws in Australia's other states, all of which allow teenagers to get their driver's license at 17.
However, support for the proposal from the government was ruled out by Roads Minister Luke Donnellan who said the change would lead to more fatal crashes.
"(Road safety experts) expect if we drop the age to 17 years of age we'd have 10 more sons and daughters, young people, who would lose their lives on our roads. That is simply not acceptable," Donnellan told reporters on Wednesday.
"So let me make it very clear: we do not support the proposition, we will not be lowering the driving age to 17 years of age."
"The State Government has a 'towards zero' road safety policy. We're very serious about that.
"We do not expect anybody in the future to die on our roads and that is very much what we're working towards."
Committee member Fiona Patten refuted Donnellan's claim, saying the report uncovered no evidence that the change would cost lives.
"The major reasons for accidents and deaths is inexperience. It is experience and not age that predicts if someone would have an accident or not," Patten told News Limited on Wednesday.
Under the proposal learner drivers would need at least 20 hours of supervised night-time driving experience before being allowed to take the driving test, double the current amount.
The report said that experience rather than age was the major factor in road trauma.
"A key discussion point throughout the Committee's investigations was the unique risks associated with 17 year-old drivers compared to those aged 18 years," it said.
"The Committee does not believe there is sufficient evidence to indicate a significant difference in the risk levels between the two age groups.
"Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia with a minimum probationary driving age of 18 years."
Donnellan also ruled out support for a system of exemptions based on undue hardship proposed by Committee Chairman Geoff Howard whereby 17-year-olds who could prove they needed their license due to a hardship could take the driving test a year early.