Would black boxes on cranes prevent accidents?

Imagine walking down the street in New York City and seeing a dinosaur-sized construction crane lurch at an unnatural angle, gathering speed as it crashes to the ground. Your first thought would likely be: has anyone been hurt? The second: how did this happen?

Unfortunately, these terrifying accidents are no stranger to New York's streets. This year alone there have already been two crane accidents: one on February 5 in Tribeca, which killed a pedestrian and injured three other people; the other on July 19 on the Tappan Zee Bridge, which injured five people.

After the first accident, a city report recommended that all cranes be equipped with a black box type of device that would record crane activity. The report also recommended that most cranes be outfitted with technology that would monitor wind speed, as wind gusts are a leading cause of crane accidents.

Among other data, black box devices in cranes would be able to monitor when crane operators override automatic systems. Data collected by the devices could help pinpoint the causes of crane collapses, which presumably would lead to increased safety measures in the future.

Knowing the reasons behind crane collapses could also help people who have been injured in such accidents. For example, if a black box detected that a crane operator had overridden automatic systems to make an unsafe maneuver, or if the box detected wind speeds at which the crane should not have been operating, this could be used as evidence in a personal injury case.

New York City is a busy and crowded place. With so much potential for injury in the case of construction accident, is there any harm in collecting as much data from crane mishaps as possible?

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