Michael Preston was driving a Scania R450 lorry on the inside lane of the motorway and was on his way home to Telford when he smashed into the back of a trailer loaded with a van.
The trailer was being towed by a Mercedes E300 estate car belonging to Anthony Marston.
He was also driving home to Telford but had stopped near Junction 10a for the M54 to refuel.
Six other vehicles manoeuvred around the trailer before Preston slammed into it, trapping 54-year-old Mr Marston between it and his Mercedes.
Mr Marston suffered multiple severe injuries and died.
Preston’s lorry fell down an embankment and overturned, but he suffered no serious injuries other than a broken collarbone.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard yesterday that Preston had a “clear view” for more than 14 seconds before he hit Mr Marston.
Preston was yesterday jailed for 32 months, having previously pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
Mr Harpreet Sandhu said: “CCTV footage shows the lorry being driven by this defendant approaching Mr Marston.
“The first reaction by the defendant is under a second before the collision itself.
“Mr Marston was in the defendant’s view for 365 metres.”
He added: “At a speed of 56mph (at which he was recorded moments before the crash) it would have taken 14.6 seconds to travel that distance.
“The CCTV footage also shows there were no vehicles between the two to impede his view of Mr Marston.”
Mr Peter Cooper, defending, said his client was “at a loss” to explain his failure to react earlier and accepted that he was not paying “adequate attention”.
He added: “It was regrettable that Mr Marston found himself refuelling on the hard shoulder.”
Preston, of Matlock Avenue, Dawley, Telford, was also disqualified from driving for 76 months.
Judge Amjad Nawaz, said: “There is no rhyme or reason I have heard to explain his failure to see the vehicle. The only conclusion I can draw is that his attention must have been avoidably distracted.”
The crash took place on August 21 last year on a section of ‘smart motorway’.
Displays advised drivers of delays and told them to use the hard shoulder.
Mr Marston, from Leegomery, leaves his wife and two children. He had been working as a courier, having previously served in the Gulf War.
After yesterday’s hearing Sue Marston, his widow, said: “Tony was a unique character and his death leaves a massive gap in our lives and hearts.”
Mrs Marston called on drivers to take greater care to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.
She said: “I can only hope that anyone who reads about this case and who hears about the sentence will reflect on how we use our roads, and if everyone takes a bit more care then maybe others won’t have to go through what our family have had to.”