Stephen King, being a former cocaine addict, later admitted that he was "coked out of my mind" the entire time he was making this picture and often didn't know what he was doing. He remarked that he'd like to try directing again someday, this time sober.
An accident occurred on July 31, 1985 during shooting in a suburb of Wilmington, North Carolina where a radio-controlled lawnmower used in a scene went out of control and struck a block of wood used as a camera support, shooting out wood splinters which injured the director of photography Armando Nannuzzi; as a result, he lost his right eye. Nannuzzi sued Stephen King on February 18, 1987 for $18 million in damages. The suit was settled out of court.
The "Dixie Boy" truck stop was a set constructed 10 miles outside of Wilmington, North Carolina. It was convincing enough that several truckers tried to stop in, and eventually the producers had to put announcements in local papers saying that the "Dixie Boy" was just a movie set.
While shooting the scene where the steamroller rampages across the baseball diamond, Stephen King requested that the SFX department place a bag of fake blood near the dummy of a young player who would be run over by it. The desired effect would be that a smear of blood would appear on the steamroller and be re-smeared on the grass over and over, like a printing press. While filming the scene, however, the bag of blood exploded too soon and sprayed everywhere, making it appear as if the boy's head had also exploded. King was thrilled with the results, but censors demanded the shot be cut.
While filming the scene where the ice cream truck flips over the stunt didn't go according to plan. A telephone-pole size beam of wood was placed inside so it would flip end over end but it only flipped once and slid on its roof, right into the camera. Gene Poole, dolly grip on the film, pulled the cameraman out of the way at the last second. -Subsequently, Gene Poole's name is listed on one of the time cards when Bill is putting his card back after being told by Bubba that he must work more hours than he is going to get paid for.
Several of the radio-controlled trucks used for the Dixie Boy siege broke down throughout filming, which delayed production as every time a truck would break down and get repaired, another truck would also break down.
In the movie trailer, Stephen King said he decided to direct the film himself after writing several because he wanted to see Stephen King done right. "If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself."
Despite the plot which says that all machines in the world come alive and begin killing people, Camp and the Curtis' cars never becomes sentient. Even Hendershot's car, identifiable by the license plate BUBBA stamped on it, never comes alive itself and (along with nearly all of the other cars in the truck stop parking lot and in other scenes) remains sedate throughout the entire movie.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was to have originally released the film (along with Manhunter (1986)), as the last two films of a deal between producer Dino De Laurentiis and the studio. After DeLaurentiis bought Embassy Pictures and renamed it DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, he chose to distribute the film himself and the last two films in the deal didn't happen until the 1990s.
In the game room of DIXIE BOY truck stop, they had a Bally Night Rider pinball game, and a Williams Pokerino (also had a few video games: A Cinematronics Star Castle, Atari Tempest Cocktail and a Konami Time Pilot '84 in a Stern cabinet). Fairly early on in the movie, the Night Rider playfield glass smashes itself, and very late in the movie, for a split second, you can see the games being plowed into by a semi truck.
The title of the film is referenced in The Simpsons (1989) episode "Maximum Homerdrive", in which Homer Simpson takes over a truck driver's delivery and finds out that his truck is controlled by an on board computer. Yeardley Smith, who plays Connie in the film, is the voice of Lisa Simpson in the show.