Two teenagers who died in a fiery smash in Melbourne's west on Tuesday night had been on their way to Eildon to celebrate New Year's Eve.
The crash happened just before 11pm, when their car ran off the Princes Freeway at Altona, just before the Kororoit Creek Road exit.
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Two teenagers dead in Altona car crash
Two teenage men have died when their car hit a tree and burst into flames in Altona in Melbourneâs southwest. Courtesy ABC News 24.
The car struck a tree and burst into flames.
Driver Ethan Watson-Day, 18, from Yarraville, had obtained his licence about a week earlier, police said.
His passenger, Jarrod Beven, 16, from Altona North, had been trying to obtain directions by phone.
Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer said the pair were travelling in a convoy of three vehicles when their car missed the turn-off to the Western Ring Road.
"And they've got on the phone trying to figure it out," he said.
"The 18-year-old had only just got his licence.
"The 16-year-old was on the phone to his friends in other vehicles when they hit the tree.
"I don't know how those other young kids will get past this.
"How a family reconciles the loss of a 16- and 18-year-old boy is beyond me.
"It was more than likely inexperience, inattention and distraction and he's run off the road and hit a tree and that car was engulfed in flames almost immediately."
David Dedic, a close friend of both boys, was in the same year as Ethan at Emmanuel College in Altona North.
"He just loved everyone and everyone loved him," David said.
"He was just perfect.
"There are few people in the world like him. He was like an angel. He just had a beautiful heart and he just loved everyone."
David described Jarrod as a selfless person who liked to see others happy.
"He was just amazing to be around, never negative.
"He'd always want to see you happy. He never really worried about himself. He was just amazing, unbelievable."
David said people didn't understand the actual toll of road trauma.
"They see a statistic, a figure, say two deaths, and just they see that and go, 'It's just another statistic, another figure just to add'.
"But they don't actually really realise the amount of lives those two people affected. Like the whole of Altona, western suburbs, we all knew them."
The deaths bring the state's road toll to 256, seven more than for this time in 2014. Eight of the fatalities occurred since December 23.
Assistant Commissioner Fryer said there was a road death in Victoria every day and a half.
"We are filling our chapels and churches and synagogues and mosques every day and a half with people grieving, saying goodbye to a loved one who need not have been lost," he said.
"Those two young men died at the scene. Two young men who won't see their next birthday and, absolutely tragically, families who have to somehow try to reconcile the needless loss of these two young lives.
"How will their families ever deal with the loss of such young life? How would you deal with the loss of a loved one?"
— 7 News Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) December 29, 2015
There had also been 5000 serious injuries from road trauma in Victoria in 2015, Assistant Commissioner Fryer said.
"We know that Victorians are particularly vulnerable on our rural roads and there is a three times more likely chance of being killed on the rural roads, and that will continue to be, so we ask everyone to pay particular attention while driving in the country."
Victoria Police was not requesting double demerit points to reduce road trauma, he said.
"The research that has been conducted by the last chief commissioner, Ken Lay, who was an absolute advocate for road safety, indicated that there was not significant data that would indicate that double demerit points will lead to a reduction in road trauma, so it is not something that Victoria Police has been asking for."
Under Operation Roadwise, which started on December 13, police have detected 657 drink drivers, 425 drug drivers, 1500 unlicensed or disqualified drivers, 5600 speeding offences and 1200 drivers using a mobile phone.
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) December 29, 2015
Anyone who saw the Altona crash is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestoppersvic.com.au.