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Coroner recommends police chase change after teen death

Victorian police must minimise the dangers in pursuing speeding vehicles after a 16-year-old girl died during a police chase, a coroner has recommended.

Jacqueline Vodden was killed on the Western Freeway in Ballan, northwest of Melbourne, after being flung from the front seat of a van when it crashed into a truck in September 2017.

The driver, a 17-year-old boy who cannot be identified, has since been jailed for up to eight years after pleading guilty to culpable driving.

The van was stolen, travelling about 40km/h above the speed limit and was being pursued by police for less than five minutes when it collided with a VicRoads maintenance truck.

The truck was parked in an emergency lane with two workers seated inside it.

Police knew there was a passenger moving around in the van as they followed it, but decided it wasn't dangerous enough to call off the pursuit, an inquest was previously told.

Senior Constable Rory Meddick, who was in the passenger seat of the police car and responsible for assessing risks, said he was hoping the driver would stop.

Victorian coroner Sarah Gebert investigated the circumstances leading up to Jacqueline's death.

"The human cost is immense for the family and friends of Jacqueline as well as for the community, and there is exposure to grief and trauma for all those involved, including civilian witnesses, emergency personnel and police," she said.

She said it was "incredibly fortunate" no other lives were lost in the crash.

The coroner said the pursuit fell at the "higher end" of risk, as the van was speeding, there were young occupants inside and the driving was erratic.

However, she acknowledged police did not know the van was speeding at 100km/h in a 60 zone due to "less than ideal equipment" in their vehicle.

In her findings released on Tuesday, Ms Gebert recommended Victoria Police improve its training to ensure high-risk factors are taken into account before and during police pursuits.

"Victoria police training should ensure that there is an emphasis on how higher risk factors are given consideration in the application of the risk assessment and decision making guide, in order to minimise the risks associated with pursuits," she said.

She said police vehicles should be fitted with better equipment, to improve speed estimates during pursuits, and found the force needed to improve communication during police chases.