Trucker Kenneth Wilson crashed his Large Goods Vehicle into Tanya Forrest's Ford Ka on the A189 near Cramlington on November 2, 2019, and flipped it onto its roof.
Ms Forrest, 51, from Bedlington, died at the scene and her 75-year-old mum, who was her passenger, suffered serious, "life changing" injuries.
Newcastle Crown Court heard Ms Forrest had pulled over to call the NHS on 111 to order a repeat prescription for her mother.
When the call handler realised she was driving, she was told to stop the car at a safe place, so pulled over onto the nearside lane of the southbound dual carriageway.
Prosecutor Sue Hirst said: "The prosecution accept this was not an appropriate place for her to have stopped, it would have been safer if she had continued until she could pull off or pull into a layby."
Miss Hirst said other drivers had safely overtaken the Ka before it was hit by Wilson's milk delivery vehicle.
Wilson, 54, of Carcroft, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, admitted causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Miss Hirst said Wilson pleaded admitted guilt on a written basis, which included: "I accept making a fatal decision of looking into my bag, which was on my left side, with a view to taking a can of Coke from my cool bag.
"I accept having taken my eyes off the road. This would have been about six seconds away from the point of impact."
Rachel Hedworth, defending, said Wilson, who handed in 17 character references, feels "regret and guilt" over what happened that day and added: "He asks, through me, to impress upon the family he is very, very, very sorry."
The court heard Wilson has a good driving and employment record, with no past collisions and clean licence.
Miss Hedworth said quietly spoken Wilson is "gentle and kind" with "huge support" from those who know him and has no previous convictions.
Judge Robert Adams said what happened was a "tragedy" and Wilson's decision to reach into his bag was "particularly silly and particularly dangerous".
The judge added: "Nothing that I can say is going to make the Forrest family feel any better about what has happened.
"Nothing I can say can bring Tanya Forrest back.
"I am sure the defendant, and it is clear from what I have read about him, wishes he were able to roll back time and do things differently."
Judge Adams jailed Wilson for two years and four months.
Wilson was banned from driving for three years and eight months.
In a statement after the hearing, Ms Forrest's family said: "There were two things Tanya loved above anything, her family, and her vocation.
"We loved her and there are no words adequate for the deep grief and sorrow we feel at her untimely passing.
"She was a proud, dedicated, and skilled nurse, if she had not been killed in November 2019, she would have been on the front line against Covid-19, standing shoulder to shoulder with her colleagues in the NHS, caring for patients and working long hard hours to help eradicate this pandemic.
"It is not just her family that have felt her loss, the world will be forever lopsided because she is no longer part of it.
"The Forrest family would like to thank the NHS, Tanya's other family, especially the team at the Great North Air Ambulance, Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care A&E and the RVI Trauma and ICU Team who saved our Mam's life against all odds and to Graeme Harrison, Chaplain at NSECC for caring for us and her grieving colleagues.
"Northumbria Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have worked extremely hard in order to reach todays outcome, we are forever grateful for their diligence and support."