Police say a tragic court case resulting from the death of an exhausted trucker on the M1 north of Hemel Hempstead should serve as a wake-up call for all motorists.
Driving while tired can be a killer, they say, and that applies to people behind the wheel of any vehicle.
The warning came after a father and son were sentenced to a total of 11 years in custody at St Albans Crown Court.
The case related to an horrific crash between Junctions 9 and 10 in February 2010.
The court heard that driver Stephen Kenyon, 35, had been breaking the rules which govern how long HGV drivers can stay at the wheel when his 39-tonne truck ploughed into stationary traffic on the motorway.
The two men who ran the firm he worked for, delivering stock for 99p Stores outlets around the country, had actively encouraged Stephen and other workers to flout the rules.
Drivers commonly used two tachographs in their vehicles to allow them to work longer than their regulated hours.
The court heard at the time of the crash Stephen had been on duty for 19 hours and 15 minutes. He had been driving for 13 hours and 8 minutes during this time, covering 592 miles.
Europe-wide rules say drivers of large commercial vehicles are only allowed to stay on the road for a maximum of nine hours in a 24 hour period and ten hours twice a week
Det Chief Insp John Arthur , who led the investigation, said: “These men had a total disregard for the safety of their workforce and other road users and while Stephen was aware of what he was doing, this practice should never have occurred let alone been encouraged.
“Their negligence ultimately led to Stephen’s death.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all drivers that driving while tired can be extremely dangerous. People should take suitable breaks to ensure the safety of themselves and others.”
The two defendants were found guilty of manslaughter and health and safety offences as well as tax fraud – a separate investigation found that their firm failed to declare income of more than £5.1 million, didn’t pay income tax or VAT and failed to operate PAYE and National Insurance on wages paid to their employees.