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  • October 11, 2021
  • 5 Minute Read
Press Release

One in Five Drivers Risk Being Caught Out by Expansion of Clean Air Zones

  • A third of drivers plan to stop driving into a CAZ with their current vehicle
  • 28% don’t know how they will adjust driving habits
  • One in five anticipate disruption to the commute and visits to see loved ones
  • Some 9.3 million cars potentially affected

Just over one in five United Kingdom drivers (21%) are completely unaware of the growing number of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) that are already in operation or in advanced stages of planning around the country, according to new research from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

This is despite the fact that as many as 9.3 million cars could potentially be affected based on the research: 16% of petrol cars are more than 15 years old and 53% of diesel cars are more than six years old, which means their owners will need to pay to drive them in most Clean Air Zones, even if they live within the zone.

This comes as one in four drivers (25%) say they don’t know that London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (Ulez) is set to expand to a much larger area, while a third (34%) aren’t aware that its expansion will come into force on Oct. 25. Based on Transport for London estimates, this alone could potentially impact more than 45,000 cars and vans every day.

As more zones are launched across the U.K., drivers will be exposed to additional costs, fines and journey disruption at a time when many continue to prefer to use a car as a safe mode of transport.

Daily charges for the U.K.’s current three Clean Air Zones range substantially based on vehicle type, from £8 to £50 per day. The average fine for driving into a Clean Air Zone without paying the relevant charge is currently £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

Critically, more than half (53%) of people with older vehicles that must pay a charge admit that they don’t know about the specific rules and restrictions that apply, and which vehicles will be compliant or not in each area.

Across the country, many drivers remain unaware of the existence and specific restrictions of the U.K.’s growing number of Clean Air Zones:


NOT aware of zone

NOT aware of restrictions

Date of operation

Ulez current (London)



Live now

Ulez expanded (London)



Oct. 25, 2021




Live now




Live now




February 2022




November 2021



Not Announced

Spring 2022



Not Announced

Summer 2022



Not Announced

Summer 2022



Not Announced

Summer 2023



Not Announced




Not Announced




Not Announced


Around a third of drivers (30%) said they would stop driving entirely into Clean Air Zones after they were introduced. However, 28% say that they don’t know yet how they plan to adjust to the new regulations.

While reducing the volume of high-polluting vehicles entering towns and cities is a critical goal, many trips will be affected by the new Clean Air Zones – on average five trips per month, rising to nine trips per month into London’s Ulez. Already 42% of drivers anticipate they will need to make some level of adjustment.

Diesel owners are especially exposed. Nearly half (46%) of U.K. drivers that own a diesel more than six years old are completely unaware of the fines they could incur.

One in five drivers (20%) expects to face challenges during the commute and the same number also anticipate restrictions when they see family and friends. One in 12 drivers expects business trips will be affected.

The study also found that 6% of drivers will face disruption when they make trips to care for relatives and one in 12 expect problems with the school run or travelling to a place of study.

On-street car clubs or picking up a car from a local rental branch will enable people to use a low-emission and compliant vehicle when they have no choice but to drive into a CAZ.

"Clean Air Zones are vital to reduce transport emissions, move people away from older, more polluting vehicles and encourage use of cleaner shared, active and public transport options," Enterprise Vice President of Mobility for Europe Ben Lawson said.

"However, more needs to be done to raise levels of awareness and provide travel options to those most affected, as it is not always possible to avoid driving into a CAZ.

"We have the U.K.’s largest CAZ-compliant fleet and have increased the number of car club vehicles and rental branches both in city centres and surrounding areas in order to offer more people choice. Those people living inside the zones who drive an older, more polluting vehicle might find it more cost efficient to sell or scrap their vehicle and replace it with car club or rental usage when they truly need to use a car.

"Our experience from projects across the U.K. is that transport hubs and Mobility-as-a-Service apps will play a key role in providing seamless access to a range of transport services, where people can select the most appropriate form of transport for each part of a journey. As an example, people may take a train for part of a journey and then pick up a low- or zero-emission rental or car club vehicle for the last few miles to their destination.

"Earlier this month we launched a trial service with Brompton Bike Hire from our Russell Square branch in central London. This enables people to hire a bike and/or a car and use whichever is best at each point in a journey. We believe it is possible to improve air quality and ensure people can still travel efficiently."

In order to ensure hygiene and safety, Enterprise introduced its Complete Clean Pledge in 2020 to further enhance how all its vehicles are thoroughly cleaned between each rental. This includes washing, vacuuming, general wipe down and sanitizing with a disinfectant that meets leading health authority requirements, with particular attention to more than 20 high-touch points.