A carpool sticker is a sticker affixed to a vehicle that allows the driver to travel in the carpool lane, theoretically to save time on his or her commute, even if he is alone in the car. These stickers are generally available to people who drive hybrids, or who have entirely electric or natural gas powered vehicles, to encourage more people to purchase these ultra low emissions autos. In some areas, the carpool sticker program has become so popular that they are being discontinued, because the carpool lanes are now becoming clogged with fuel efficient vehicles.
The success of this program in some areas makes it likely that it will spread to other states or countries as well, as more and more people become concerned about reducing carbon emissions, and doing things that are better for the environment. Another benefit to the carpool sticker is that it generally remains with the car when it is sold; this makes some people more willing to pay extra for a car with a carpool sticker, knowing that it will allow them to travel in the carpool lane and have a shorter commute. Anyone paying extra for a car with a carpool sticker should be sure to verify the sticker has not expired, however, and will still be recognized as a way to travel individually in the carpool lane.
In some cases, different colored stickers are given to people based on the efficiency of their vehicles. It is rare that any vehicle that is not a hybrid would receive a carpool sticker, even if it is a very low emissions vehicle. Cars that are entirely electric, however, might receive a different colored sticker than a hybrid. The purpose of this is to allow certain people to continue to use the carpool lane even if the other colored stickers expire, and to encourage people to purchase more and more energy efficient vehicles.
Of course, while purchasing fuel efficient hybrids or electric vehicles and then being able to drive them solo in the carpool lane is certainly beneficial, actually carpooling with other people is even more beneficial to the environment. Even hybrid vehicles produce emissions that can contribute to the carbon in the atmosphere, and carpooling with other people on the way to work or school can really cut down on this. This will also help to make everyone's commute even shorter by taking more cars off the road, which is the primary reason most people sign up for a carpool sticker anyway.