New Zealand's minimum driving age is likely to rise by one year to 16 under a Government road safety strategy to be unveiled tomorrow.

The restricted driving test will also be toughened, to encourage youngsters to spend more time practising under supervision before going solo.

And all drivers aged under 20 face a zero alcohol limit, but with some leniency for those found with just tiny traces in their blood.

But the Government has put off a decision on the adult alcohol limit.

New Zealand youngsters are 60 per cent more likely than their Australian counterparts to die in crashes - a comparison seen by Transport Minister Steven Joyce as "a sad indictment."

They suffer an average of about 21 deaths a year for every 100,000 in their age group, compared with Australia's rate of 13.

A decision in principle by the Government to raise the driving age by one year represents a compromise, given greater apparent public support for lifting it to 17.

That, and imposing a zero blood alcohol limit for certain categories of drivers, shared second place in the preferences of more than 1200 people who responded to a public invitation to rank 61 ideas for improving safety.

Compulsory third party vehicle insurance proved the most popular idea, but the Government believes high existing coverage - of more than 92 per cent of the national fleet - means it is unlikely that added gains would outweigh hefty administration costs.

The widow of a man killed by a 15-year-old driver said last night that increasing the education and supervision given to young drivers was just as important as increasing their age.

Kathy Condon's husband, Graham, a Christchurch City councillor and Paralympian, died when a teenager failed to take a corner and crashed into his cycle in September 2007.

The girl was in breach of her restricted licence by carrying four other passengers at the time.

Mrs Condon said she remained convinced that distraction in the car caused the girl to crash.

She said she and her husband had not let their two children learn to drive until they were older than 16, because they felt 15 was too young.

Mrs Condon said she would like to see the legal driving age pushed up to 17 but if it was raised to 16, that was "certainly an improvement on 15".

Even lifting the age to 16 will be opposed in rural New Zealand, without exemptions for those who may have trouble getting to work or school in the absence of public transport.

The Council of Trade Unions' youth arm, Stand Up, shares the concern of Federated Farmers that raising the age will reduce young people's ability to take part in work, educational and community activities.

"We suggest investment in stronger training provisions as an alternative way to address the issue of young people crashing," Stand Up convenor James Sleep said yesterday.

Thumbs-up from teen driver

Aimee Humphries, who passed her learner licence a month after her 15th birthday, thinks the Government may have a case for lifting the qualifying age.

Now 16, the Mt Roskill student (pictured) said although she and her friends were careful drivers, too many others abused the conditions of their restricted licences by carrying passengers or driving late at night.

"I think it could be a good idea putting it up another year. It would be frustrating for people who have been looking forward to it like next year or something, but people can mature a lot more."

Aimee also favours the proposal to toughen the restricted licence test, which she found "too easy" when she passed it last March.

"I was pretty surprised - I feel I was really prepared for it because my instructor had taught me a lot about backing out of driveways and round a corner and all of that, but the [testing officer] didn't make me do all that."