As the weather begins to heat up, more boaties and divers will take to the water. However, this is also the time when more incidents and accidents are recorded, with boat drivers failing to recognise where divers are located.
This is why the NSW government has launched its Dive Safe campaign, that aims to assist boaties become more aware of divers and also promoting safer diving practices.
The campaign includes videos and flag displays that show skippers what to look out for when there are divers in the area. This includes the blue and white 'diver-below' flags that highlight when a diver is below the surface. In this situation, boaties are supposed to keep 60 metres clear.
Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay said there have been incidents in the past where best practice hasn't been observed by boaties in particular.
"The consequences of divers being struck by a boat can be horrific, that's why it is so important divers and boaties ensure they are doing their bit to prevent these accidents," he explained.
"We've had serious incidents, including two fatalities in the past 10 years, involving divers being hit by a vessel or its propellers in NSW waters, which were caused by a lack of awareness by boaties of the location of divers."
Three videos are featured on the NSW Transport website, but there will also be demonstrations for skippers and divers alike. Transport authorities will be handing out information at boat ramps and events over the coming months to highlight what the 'diver-below' flags mean and how to avoid interactions out on the water.
Who is at risk the most?
It is important for boaties to remember that not all divers can be seen from the surface. Snorkelers and spearfishers spend most of their time at the top of the water, so with a combination of sight and the flags can be seen in some circumstances.
However, scuba divers operating in the deepest waters will be impossible to spot from the surface. It is also possible for these individuals to pop to the surface suddenly or come to the top well away from their boat or the shore. This makes it vital for skippers to be constantly aware of their environment and to ensure signs of a diver are recognised.
If an incident does occur in the water and as a diver you are struck or injured by a boat, then you could be eligible for compensation. Contact a public liability lawyer to discuss your situation and possible legal action.