Mike Stevens | Feb 9, 2010

PRIME MINISTER Kevin Rudd wants to see the legal drinking age in Australia raised to 21 years.

Talking on ABC Television's Q&A programme last night, Mr Rudd said that while he believes a higher drinking age could work to lower the number of P-Plater deaths, a comprehensive study would need to be undertaken to prove its worth.

If the evidence is there, Mr Rudd said, then the Government will look at making changes to the current drinking age laws.

"The drinking rates of young teenagers is going through the roof, and hugely affecting their ability to, frankly, manoeuvre a car."

The Prime Minister said that young adults being legally able to drink and to drive from around the same age, is a factor in P-Plater deaths on the road.

A study undertaken by national insurer AAMI in September last year showed alcohol to be a major contributing factor in road accidents involving young people, while instances of excessive speeding and drag racing appear to be on the rise.

“It’s alarming to see that some young drivers continue to underestimate the influence of alcohol consumption on their driving skills, with one in six (15 percent) believing it is okay for them to drive after a few drinks as long as they feel capable,” AAMI Corporate Affairs Manager Yves Noldus said.

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