A BEEN there done that Darron Shields tells it like it is - that the one thing stopping the Noosa students in front of him from ending up in a wheelchair for life has all the strength and consistency of toothpaste.
Welcome to spinal chord shock therapy 101 at Doonan's House With No Steps, where more than 100 St Teresa's Catholic College teenagers are being, confronted by the Rotary Youth Driver Awareness program.
If the chord is smashed, then circuits that relay feeling and movement to the brain via this fragile chord ceases and, as Darron can tell them from hard experience: "It turns your life upside down in a split second".
May 16 is the 10th anniversary of his triathlon-training accident where inattention on his part saw him smash into a parked vehicle. He has never walked since but from his wheelchair world Darron can talk plenty.
And the Paraplegic Benefit Fund prevention manager is not the sole sobering voice of trauma here. Josh Gridley landed hard on his dirt bike just seven months ago when the throttle stuck going over a jump.
"I landed legs first, they folded underneath me and broke my spinal chord." Josh said since then "it's been a rollercoaster".
Emotional ups and downs that he does not want to see any of the young people he's speaking to, forced to go on.
Spinal injuries - that are all too common in road accidents - create a ripple effect that can rock whole families and even the closest circle of friends.
"A spinal chord has the consistency of tooth paste and if you injure it, you just cannot fix it - there is no medical cure at the moment," Darron said.
"Josh is going through a rehabilitation program and he might have an opportunity to get some function back, but at the moment we don't know what that is."
Darron said the impact of their talks that day, so the facilitator from the four local Rotary clubs present say, is clearly visible in the eyes of the audience. "It's deer in the headlight stuff," Darron said.
Students Gabi Barnett and Ebony Wall were transfixed.
"It was a really big wake-up call - kids think 'oh it won't happen to me, it will happen to someone else'," Ebony said.
She is 16 and will soon be embarking on her learner driver courses. Gary Crick Auto Group have provided a car for them to be passengers to a safer driver experience while driving instructors like Ben Selfe of Coastwide Driving School donate their time and expertise working through "stopping distances, hazards, distractions and risks".
Driving for dummies is one way to get the point across.
The students are taken out a closed road. Anyone caught clowning can be asked to stand on the road, as an expert driver demonstrates how hard it is to stop. When the car moves off the student is swapped for the crash test doll. It's designed to get their attention. It works.