from my experience, if you punch your brake pedal very hard and only stop till the last split second , then chances creating flat spot is very high, My fd took my car to do a time trial down slope at a winding road from a ski hill. When we reached bottom of the hill, smell came out from front brakes,steering wheel vibrate when hitting the brakes, inspected the rotor showing purple colour under light (overheated the rotor).
The harmony of our Vibe/most toyota in general are encourage you to drive as smooth as possible.
2 years ago I changed my driving habit to a old granny pursuit of smoothness. I have to admit our brakes are not grabby at all as compared to other makes ( We felt our brake are strongest only on an up hill incline). Anyways, I brake the most earliest as possible, I now prefer to drag the brake as earliest moment than have quick and hard pedal stroke. just like the previous owner state, release the brake as much as possible when the light almost turn green. End results : 9 years old car with 63k miles, front pads 47 mm left and rear pad 65 mm left. No detectable pulsation on both sets of brakes, all with original pad and rotors .
I do my own brake service 1-2 times a year,sand the rotor surface with 80 grit sand paper. I pull the rotor out and wire bush both side of the hat, flushing my brakes every other yrs. I typically replace pads at around 35-40mm as per Toyota tech's guidelines to prevent over extending caliper pistons causing caliper to sized. Oh yeah, remember to re torque ur wheel nuts 2 times after each service