Hybrid drivers in Colorado will soon be able to drive solo in carpool lanes. The state will issue 2,000 special permits through a lottery system. Applications are being accepted through May 31, 2008.

All hybrid vehicles will be eligible in Colorado. Critics argue that the incentive should not be awarded to larger hybrids that offer little or no fuel economy benefits compared with small conventional cars. The number of permits to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes may increase after Colorado’s transportation department determines if the extra vehicles have any adverse impact on highway traffic flow.

The use of carpool lanes for solo-driving hybrid owners continues to be debated across the country. Arizona, after issuing 10,000 HOV tags for hybrid vehicles since early last year, is halting the program for any new applicants until the impact can be assessed. California discontinued the perk in 2007, after issuing 85,000 stickers. Only high-mpg hybrids—such as the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, and Honda Insight—were granted permits in Arizona and California.

Access to HOV lanes access is an appealing perk to car buyers considering a hybrid—but skyrocketing gas prices are expected to have a much greater impact on hybrid sales.

We will continue to report on the latest developments regarding hybrid HOV lane access.