It sucks that this guy was whacked, and if the guy was asleep at the
wheel, he deserves to go away.
I mean, ostensibly it wasn't intended - it was negligence. And while negligence shouldn't simply be ignored, assuming this was what it sounds like - a terrible accident that no one wanted - what good does locking the driver away and ruining yet another life do? What tangible good comes from imprisoning him? Why do we as a society feel that he somehow "deserves" to have his own life ruined in turn?
Punishment for the sake of punishment is one of the great absurdities of humanity. Assuming the driver isn't somehow callously remorseless and unfeeling, surely he's already suffering the guilt of his negligence? He has to live the rest of his life with his crime on his conscience. Every time he gets behind the wheel of a car, he's going to have this terrible accident gnawing away at him - assuming he can even bring himself to get back behind a wheel. He'll lay awake at night, hating himself for such a small, simple, human thing - making a bad judgement call and being wrong, falling prey to the power of exhaustion at a bad time.
And how much chance must have been involved! If the driver had fallen asleep mere seconds earlier or later, he'd have missed the poor father entirely! Or if the father had stopped to tie his shoe at some point, the two fatal trajectories no longer would have intersected. Or if the driver's sleep addled control of the vehicle had caused him to veer left instead of right, or vice versa. Or if he had instead veered to a greater or lesser degree.
There's so much that no one could have known or foreseen. The driver couldn't have known he'd fall asleep at the wheel. He couldn't have known when, or where. He couldn't have known that a pedestrian would just happen to be walking down that particular rural highway, at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place to be struck on exactly the particular trajectory that the truck would end up on while uncontrolled.
Instead of spending money and resources destroying the life of a man by jailing him, we should be spending our efforts improving safety instruction for drivers at large. We should be funding improvements to our roadways, such as adding "rumble strips" to those roadways that lack them, to help combat the threat of driver exhaustion. We should be investing in vehicle technology and research, perhaps mandating safety features such as computerized driver assessment, where the car itself attempts to determine if a driver has drifted off at the wheel, or perhaps investing directly in wholly autonomous vehicles. We should be investing in pedestrian accomodations, making it easier and safer for people to get around on foot.
These are just a few of the countless better options available to us than locking away a man for making a mistake any of us might have done, and that surely many of us have - this driver was just unlucky enough to have someone in the path of his vehicle when he drifted off.