Using a mobile-phone while driving, without a hands-free kit, has been banned in the US state of Washington.

The state has signed a law that makes talking or texting on hand-held cell phone a primary offense.

The law empowers enforcement officials to ticket drivers caught using their phones.

Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 due to distracted drivers, and more than half a million were injured, according to a research by the US National Highway Traffic Administration.

The Washington state law is modelled on the Executive Order issued by President Obama on 1 October, 2009.

The law directed federal workers not to text while driving government-owned vehicles.

Early this year the US Transportation Department has also announced similar ban for drivers of commercial vehicles.