CAZ update – one in five UK motorists does not know what a clean air zone is

  • Alex Buttle
  • 28th May 2021

Motorway reveals a lack of awareness ahead of new measures coming into force in Birmingham on 1st June

  • 21% of UK motorists do not know what a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is, while a further 21% are unsure
  • Despite many new ones coming into force, only 16% know how to check if they will be charged when driving through a CAZ
  • Just 12% know what the minimum standard for their vehicle is
  • 44% agree with the principle that petrol and diesel vehicles should be charged for driving in densely populated areas
  • Two thirds (66%) are not aware that a CAZ is being introduced in Birmingham on 1st June

Despite continuous media coverage over the last year about Clean Air Zones (CAZs), one fifth (21%) of UK motorists have no idea what a CAZ is, while one in three (31%) motorists in Birmingham are unaware that a CAZ is being introduced to their city on 1st June, according to research from Motorway, the online marketplace for used cars.

Clean Air Zones have been introduced in both London and Bath already and will launch in Birmingham, on 1st June 2021. They are one of several measures introduced to reduce pollution in the nation’s worst-affected areas. However, 21% of UK motorists are unsure of how they work, or how they may be affected by their introduction. And two thirds (66%) are unaware that a CAZ is being introduced in Birmingham next week.

Only 12% know what the minimum standard for their vehicle is and just 16% know how to check if they will be charged when driving through a Clean Air Zone. While this figure rises to 20% among Birmingham drivers, it still shows incredibly low awareness considering the Birmingham CAZ launches in less than a week.

Every CAZ is different – tailored to the area and the aims it wishes to achieve. But, in principle, they split opinion. While 44% agree that high-polluting petrol and diesel vehicles should be charged for driving in densely populated areas, 33% disagree and 23% sit on the fence.

Whatever the case, a prediction can be made that the zones will do their job – 36% said they would avoid travelling by car, van or motorbike if given an additional charge, while 21% would consider selling their petrol or diesel vehicle in favour of a greener, electric vehicle. In fact, almost a quarter (22%) of UK motorists said they were very likely to buy an electric vehicle while 30% said they were somewhat likely.

Alex Buttle, Director at Motorway, says:

“Clean Air Zones are popping up all over the country. First in London with ULEZ, then a CAZ in Bath, and now Birmingham. However you feel about them, if the car you’re driving means you’ll be charged when you enter the CAZ, then selling it may be an obvious choice to save money – especially while the used car market is so strong and prices of non-compliant cars are expected to fall this year for these types of cars.

“The used car market is booming right now, due to a real lack of new cars coming to market, so car owners may want to strike while the iron is hot. Whether you go all-in on an electric vehicle or opt for a CAZ-compliant lower-emission petrol or diesel car there’s an incredible choice available whatever your price range and style.”

Amanda Stretton, motoring expert said:

“The Birmingham CAZ has been the subject of much debate over the last year, both on a national and local level. So it’s pretty shocking that only 1 in 3 drivers in Birmingham have any idea that it’s coming into force on Tuesday! Add to that the 21% of UK motorists who don’t even know what a CAZ is! Clearly more needs to be done to educate people before they get a nasty surprise when they drive into a city operating a CAZ. It’s also important to remember that these changes to driving in big cities affect everyone – for both air quality and to inform people about any future choices they may make when it comes to buying a car.”

Drivers can use this online vehicle checker from The Department for Transport to see if they will be affected by the Bath or Birmingham CAZ, or this checker to see if they will be affected by the ULEZ in London.